Earth Science News  





. Wildlife, already struggling, faces fresh threat in disease

Outbreaks of Ebola and its close cousin the Marburg virus -- lethal to gorillas, chimpanzee and humans -- have been closely linked to unusual patterns in rainfall and dry seasons.
by Staff Writers
Barcelona (AFP) Oct 7, 2008
From tiny tree frogs to gorillas, wild animals already facing extinction due to habitat loss, pollution and hunting must now cope with the added threat of virulent disease, conservation scientists said Tuesday.

Many pathogens are being spread among wildlife by global warming, and some could have dire consequences for humans as well, the researchers told participants at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona.

"Climate change conjures up images of rising sea levels and stranded polar bears," said Steven Sanderson, president of New York-based Conservation Society.

"But perhaps the greatest threat will come from emerging infectious diseases as a result of changing temperatures and rainfall levels."

Outbreaks, for example, of Ebola and its close cousin the Marburg virus -- lethal to gorillas, chimpanzee and humans -- have been closely linked to unusual patterns in rainfall and dry seasons.

There is no known cure for either disease, which cause painful internal hemorrhaging and high fevers.

Increasingly frequent algae blooms known as "red tides", triggered by higher sea surface temperatures, create toxins that have killed massive numbers of fish, caused sea mammal to flounder, and increased mortality among penguins and sea birds.

They can also provoke serious illness and death in humans that consume contaminated shellfish.

Some diseases spread further afield by shifting climate patterns do not harm the animals that host them but are dangerous to people, including lyme disease, transmitted by ticks bloated with deer blood, or mosquito-borne sicknesses such as malaria and yellow fever.

Other bacteria and viruses, however, affect only animals -- at least for now.

"We are seeing novel, emerging threats in the form of disease coming out of nowhere and having devastating impacts on animal populations," said Michael Hoffman, a scientist at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and co-author of a comprehensive study of the survival status of mammals, published this week in the journal Science.

The survey found that one in four mammals are threatened with extinction, and half are in decline.

"Disease has always had a role to play in affecting populations, but now we are seeing diseases that are highly pathogenic," he told AFP.

Amphibians, in particular, have suffered more species loss more than any other animal group, due to a fungus called chytridiomycosis.

The disease has already wiped out hundreds of frog, toad and salamander species, and is spreading across the globe, in part due to climate change but also through the international trade -- much of it illegal -- in wildlife.

Scientists are scrambling to find a cure that will work in the wild even as more species disappear.

The Tasmanian devil, a carnivorous marsupial found only on the Australian island for which it is named, has declined by 60 percent in only 10 years, ravaged by a terrible face cancer that spreads through contact.

Listed as "endangered" on the IUCN's "Red List" -- an inventory of the survival status of more than 44,000 animals and plants -- its prospects as a species "are extremely bleak," said Simon Stuart, in charge of biodiversity assessment for the IUCN.

Monitoring the health status of wildlife can serve as an "early warning system" for humans, said William Karesh, director of global health programs at the Conservation Society.

"Any disturbance in the environment shows up in wildlife because they don't adapt very quickly or easily," he said.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Earliest Animal Footprints Ever Found
Columbus OH (SPX) Oct 07, 2008
The fossilized trail of an aquatic creature suggests that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought. The tracks -- two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2 millimeters in diameter -- date back some 570 million years, to the Ediacaran period.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Algerian troops start flood clear-up operation
  • Haiti's hurricane death toll more than doubles to 793
  • Wetlands Restoration Not A Panacea For Louisiana Coast
  • Fraudsters prosecuted in Hurricane Katrina's wake

  • EU MPs' climate package vote brings little joy for industry
  • Aerosols From Sahara Useful For Study Of Climate Change
  • Emissions Rising Faster This Decade Than Last
  • Financial crisis darkens outlook for climate talks

  • Smog Blog For Central America And Caribbean Debuts
  • Infoterra Enhances Capability With Acquisition Of Imass
  • Students And Astronauts Use Powerful New Tool To Explore Earth From Space
  • Raytheon Completes Ground Segment Acceptance Testing For NPOESS

  • U.S. announces 'Biofuels Action Plan'
  • Innovative Wind Turbine For Off-Grid Power Generation At Commercial Sites
  • Living Off The Grid
  • US Farmers To Get Second Life From Wind Turbines

  • Analysis: Flu pandemic would overwhelm
  • Two people die of rare form of plague in Tibet: report
  • AIDS virus leapt the species barrier early last century: study
  • Climate change: Floods, drought, mosquito disease aim at Europe

  • Wildlife, already struggling, faces fresh threat in disease
  • Half of mammals 'in decline', says extinction 'Red List'
  • Quarter of species on Earth may face extinction: expert
  • Hanging on for dear life: animals from biodiversity 'Red List'

  • Defendant in Ivorian toxic waste trial blames Trafigura affiliate
  • Pollution trial opens in Ivory Coast
  • Beijing announces steps to fight smog, traffic
  • Chemical Equator Splits Northern From Southern Air Pollution

  • Eight of China's 10 oldest people are ethnic minorities: report
  • First-Ever Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria
  • Egalitarian Revolution In The Pleistocene
  • New Formula Predicts How People Will Migrate In Coming Decades

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement