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Volume 18, Issue 6 p. 329-334
Reviews

Conservation implications of disease control

Julia C Buck,

Corresponding Author

Julia C Buck

Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina–Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

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Sara B Weinstein,

Sara B Weinstein

School of Biological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

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Georgia Titcomb,

Georgia Titcomb

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California–Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

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Hillary S Young,

Hillary S Young

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California–Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

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First published: 08 June 2020
Citations: 1

Abstract

Infectious diseases have indelibly altered human history and, in doing so, have shaped the ecology and conservation of the natural world. Attempts to control diseases often result in adverse environmental impacts, including habitat degradation and unintended outcomes such as effects on non-target species. However, in instances where the most effective strategy is to physically avoid specific species or habitats, disease can also provide critical de facto conservation benefits to organisms and ecosystems. Increasingly, new genome-editing technologies offer the potential to eradicate long-term health scourges, which disproportionately affect people in developing countries. It will be critical to incorporate an understanding of the ecological consequences of disease control – including those mediated by changes in human behavior – into management strategies, and to do so without propagating environmental injustice. In this way, scientists, resource managers, and health practitioners can help to ensure that gains for human health do not result in losses for the natural world.