Climate warming increases infectious disease risk in cooler-climate species

November 19, 2020

Accelerated climate warming may increase the risk for infectious disease outbreaks in many species adapted to mild and cooler climates, whereas species from warmer climates could experience reductions in disease risk, reports a new study. Alongside a myriad of climate-related impacts on ecological communities, disease outbreaks among wildlife populations have become more frequent and widespread in recent decades. Such observations suggest that climate change and infectious disease risk in wildlife are linked; however, the ties between host-parasite biology and the environment are inherently complex and difficult to untangle. Researchers have proposed the "thermal mismatch" hypothesis to help explain these patterns in amphibians, suggesting that smaller-bodied, disease-causing pathogens tend to have greater tolerance to abnormal temperatures than the larger-bodied species they infect. Thus, species adapted to warmer climates are at greatest risk of disease under abnormally cool conditions, while species adapted to cooler climate face most risk from disease when temperatures are abnormally warm. To determine if this hypothesis can be expanded to explain how climate change-related temperature fluctuations influence disease risk across species and geographic regions, Jeremy Cohen and colleagues built a dataset describing pathogen prevalence in 2,021 host-pathogen pairs from 7,346 wildlife populations worldwide, with data on local weather and climate for each location. Modeling the data revealed findings that support the thermal mismatch hypothesis; wildlife from cool climates experienced increased disease risk during abnormally warm periods. And, while the risk to warm-adapted hosts similarly increased during cool periods, it mildly decreased during abnormally warmer periods. While these effects were largely dependent on the parasite and host identity and traits, respectively, they were strongest among cold-blooded species. They were similar across terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Climate Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Climate Insights 2020: Climate opinions unchanged by pandemic, but increasingly entrenched
A new survey provides a snapshot of American opinion on climate change as the nation's public health, economy, and social identity are put to the test.

Climate action goes digital
More transparent and accessible to everyone: information and communication technologies bring opportunities for transforming traditional climate diplomacy.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

How aerosols affect our climate
Greenhouse gases may get more attention, but aerosols -- from car exhaust to volcanic eruptions -- also have a major impact on the Earth's climate.

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

How trees could save the climate
Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions.

Climate undermined by lobbying
For all the evidence that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases outweigh the costs of regulation, disturbingly few domestic climate change policies have been enacted around the world so far.

Climate education for kids increases climate concerns for parents
A new study from North Carolina State University finds that educating children about climate change increases their parents' concerns about climate change.

Read More: Climate News and Climate Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.