The Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases
Climate change is one of the hallmarks of the Anthropocene. Rising global temperatures are having profound effects on ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them, including disease-causing organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasitic worms. Indeed, the effects of climate change on the distribution and severity of infectious diseases are now widely appreciated. However, much less is known about the potential for infectious agents to contribute to changes in climate. Many infectious agents have the potential to affect greenhouse gas emissions via effects on their hosts. In my talk, I explore the idea that interactions between climate change and infectious diseases are not solely unidirectional, specifically, that climate change can increase disease prevalence in human and animal populations, but disease, in turn, may exacerbate climate change. Uncovering the potential for positive feedbacks between climate and infectious disease is relevant for understanding both the ecology and evolution of infectious organisms and the health implications of climate change for humans and other animals.