Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Parasites of Madagascar's lemurs expanding with climate change

24.01.2013
Rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns in Madagascar could fuel the spread of lemur parasites and the diseases they carry.

By combining data on six parasite species from ongoing surveys of lemur health with weather data and other environmental information for Madagascar as a whole, a team of Duke University researchers has created probability maps of likely parasite distributions throughout the island today.


This is an indri (Indri indri) from eastern Madagascar.
Credit: Meredith Barrett

Then, using climate projections for the year 2080, they estimate what parasite distributions might look like in the future.

"We can use these models to figure out where the risk of lemur-human disease transmission might be highest, and use that to better protect the future of lemur and human health," said lead author Meredith Barrett, who conducted the study while working as a graduate student at Duke.

Lemurs are native to the African island of Madagascar, where climate change isn't the only threat to their survival. More than 90 percent of the lemurs' forest habitat has already been cleared for logging, farming and grazing. Illegal hunting for bushmeat is also a problem.

A key part of saving these animals is ensuring that they stay healthy as environmental conditions in their island home continue to shift, Barrett said.

Average annual temperatures in Madagascar are predicted to rise by 1.1 to 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2080. Rainfall, drought and cyclone patterns are changing too.

In a study published in the January 2013 issue of the journal Biological Conservation, Barrett and colleagues examined what these changes could mean for lemur health by taking a cue from the parasites they carry.

The team focused on six species of mites, ticks and intestinal worms commonly known to infect lemurs. The parasites are identified in lemur fur and feces. Some species -- such as pinworms, whipworms and tapeworms -- cause diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss in human hosts. Others, particularly mites and ticks, can transmit diseases such as plague, typhus or scabies.

When the researchers compared their present-day maps with parasite distributions predicted for the future, they found that lemur parasites could expand their range by as much as 60 percent. Whipworms, for example, which are now largely confined to Madagascar's northeast and western coasts, may become widely distributed on the country's southeastern coast as well.

Anne Yoder, senior author on the study and Director of the Duke Lemur Center, said the research is particularly important now as lemurs have been identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the most endangered mammals on earth.

Warmer weather means that parasites could grow and reproduce more quickly, or spread to higher latitudes and elevations where once they were unable to survive. As lemur parasites become more prevalent, the diseases they carry could show up in new places. The spread could be harmful to lemur populations that have never encountered these pests before, and lack resistance to the diseases they carry.

Shifting parasite distributions could have ripple effects on people too. As human population growth in Madagascar drives people and their livestock into previously uninhabited areas, wildlife-human disease transmission becomes increasingly likely.

The authors hope their results will help researchers predict where disease hotspots are likely to occur, and prepare for them before they hit.

Meredith Barrett is now a postdoctoral scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of California at San Francisco and Berkeley. Jason Brown of Duke University and Randall Junge of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium were also authors of this study.

Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Saint Louis Zoo Field Conservation for Research Fund, Duke University Center for International Studies, Duke University Graduate School, Nicholas School of the Environment and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

CITATION: "Climate change, predictive modeling and lemur health: Assessing impacts of changing climate on health and conservation in Madagascar." Barrett, M., J. Brown, et al. Biological Conservation, January 2013. 157: 409-422. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2012.09.003

Robin Ann Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Fading stripes in Southeast Asia: First insight into the ecology of an elusive and threatened rabbit
20.11.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helping to Transport Proteins Inside the Cell

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Meta-surface corrects for chromatic aberrations across all kinds of lenses

21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>