Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wildlife trade threatens public health and ecosystems

05.05.2009
Study outlines potential risks to native species and human health

Wildlife imports into the United States are fragmented and insufficiently coordinated, failing to accurately list more than four in five species entering the country.

So reports a team of scientists from the Wildlife Trust, Brown University, Pacific Lutheran University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Global Invasive Species Programme.

A paper on their findings is published in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The poorly regulated U.S. wildlife trade can lead to devastating effects on ecosystems, native species, food supply chains and human health.

"As our world, in many senses, grows smaller and smaller with the ease of international travel, the network of connections has increased, facilitating the spread of diseases," said Rita Teutonico, senior advisor for integrative activities in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE).

SBE co-funded this research through the agency's Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) priority area. HSD was supported by all NSF Directorates, and by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering and Office of Polar Programs.

"These scientists report a pattern of trade in wildlife that includes a very large number of animals, coupled with a poor understanding of what species are traded," said James Collins, NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences. "The findings highlight the need for further research because of the unknown effects these animals and their pathogens can have on native organisms."

A global trade in wildlife generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The researchers report that during a six-year period from 2000 through 2006, the U.S. imported more than 1.5 billion live animals.

"That's more than 200 million animals a year--unexpectedly high," said scientist Peter Daszak, president of the Wildlife Trust, who co-led the research.

The animals collected were from wild populations in more than 190 countries around the world, and were intended for commercial sale in the U.S.--primarily in the pet trade.

"This incredible number of imports is equivalent to every single person in the U.S. owning at least five pets," said biologist Katherine Smith of Brown University, co-leader of the study.

More than 86 percent of shipments contained animals that were not classified to the level of species, making it impossible to assess the full diversity of animals imported, or calculate the risk of non-native species introductions or disease transmission.

"Shipments are coming in labeled 'live vertebrate' or 'fish,'" said Daszak. "If we don't know what animals are in there, how do we know which are going to become invasive species or carry diseases that could affect livestock, wildlife--or ourselves?"

The wildlife trade has previously led to disease introductions such as the 2003 monkeypox outbreak following the import of infected African rodents for the pet trade.

"The threat to public health is real, as the majority of emerging diseases come from wildlife," said Smith. "Most of these imported animals originate in Southeast Asia--a hotspot for emerging diseases."

The research team calls for direct measures to decrease the risk of such "pathogen pollution" and proposes guidelines to protect human, animal, and ecosystem health.

Recommendations:

Stricter record keeping should be required to inform risk analysis on animal imports.

Third-party surveillance and testing should be established for both known and unknown pathogens at the exportation points in foreign countries.

Greater public education is needed to educate individuals, importers, veterinarians and pet industry advocates about the dangers of diseases that emerge from wildlife and that can make their way to domesticated animals and humans.

"We need to look at all the factors that impact ecosystems--the whole picture," said Daszak. "The global wildlife trade is promoting a process that will impact our health and the health of the planet."

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | 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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>