Climate change complicates everything. In addition to the much-talked about sea-level rise and its possible consequences, climate change has been implicated in the recent emergence of several infectious diseases.

Drawing from a wide range of case studies that illustrate the potential effects of climate on disease dynamics, a series of presentations to be held at the joint meeting of the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Ecological Restoration will showcase what scientists are discovering about the links between climate and disease.

Organized by Chris Ray and Sharon Collinge (University of Colorado-Boulder), “Climate change and disease ecology: Challenges to the restoration and maintenance of suitable pestilence” will also address the complicating factor of climate in efforts to restore damaged ecosystems. “Long-term changes in climate and short-term climatic disruptions will continue to alter the distribution and prevalence of infectious diseases,” says Ray. “And the frequency of short-term climatic disruptions appears to be on the rise.”

The session will explore a wide range of diseases, from those affecting marine habitat to those that sicken people, such as malaria. John Bruno (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) will review the trends for such coral diseases as White Syndrome and Caribbean Yellow Band Syndrome. Temperature anomalies, which are predicted to increase in most tropical oceans, appear to increase the severity of such disease outbreaks, which lead to loss of reef habitat. Globally, amphibian populations have been on the decline and numerous factors appear to be at work in contributing to their downward trend. Karen Lips (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) will review the evidence of climate change triggering disease outbreaks such as chytridiomycosis. Untangling the mystery of the various possible threats to amphibians is confounding, particularly in high elevation tropical areas.


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