Biodiversity loss as the foremost cause for future pandemics

Biodiversity loss stands out as the primary catalyst behind the surge in infectious disease outbreaks, rendering them more dangerous and easily widespread, as revealed by a recent study.

The emergence of new infectious diseases, frequently rooted in wildlife, is on an upward trajectory. In a comprehensive meta-analysis published in Nature, scientists identified biodiversity loss as the foremost among the “global change drivers” wreaking havoc on ecosystems and escalating outbreak risks. Following closely behind were climate change and the introduction of non-native species.

Lead researcher Professor Jason Rohr from the University of Notre Dame in the United States underscored, “Biodiversity loss, climate change, and introduced species escalate disease, while urbanization mitigates its spread.” An extensive examination encompassing nearly 1,000 studies scrutinized the global environmental triggers of infectious diseases across all continents save Antarctica, evaluating disease severity and prevalence in plant, animal, and human hosts.

The study delved into five primary global change drivers: biodiversity loss, climate change, chemical pollution, non-native species, and habitat loss. It unveiled that four of these factors, excluding habitat loss, contributed to heightened disease transmission. Notably, these findings held true across both human and non-human diseases.