Research, Connect, Protect




A guide for ecologists: Detecting the role of disease in faunal declines and managing population recovery 

Noel D. Preecea,b,⁎, Sandra E. Abella, Laura Groganc, Adrian Wayned, Lee F. Skerratte, Penny van Oosterzeea,b, Amy L. Shimae, Peter Daszakf, Hume Fieldf, Andrea Reissg, Lee Bergere, Tasmin L. Rymera, Diana O. Fisherh, Michael J. Lawesi, Susan G. Laurancea, Hamish McCallumc, Carol Essone, Jonathan H. Epsteinf

a College of Science&Engineering, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4811, Australia

b Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia

c Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group, Environmental Futures Research Institute, School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia

d Science and Conservation Division, Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Manjimup, WA 6258, Australia

e One Health Research Group, College of Public Health, Medical&Veterinary Sciences, Division of Tropical Health&Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

f EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY 10001, United States

g Conservation Medicine Program, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, 6150, WA, Australia

h School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, QLD, Australia

i School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Scottsville 3209, South Africa


Biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, especially among vertebrates. Disease is commonly ignored or dismissed in investigations of wildlife declines, partly because there is often little or no obvious clinical evidence of illness. We argue that disease has the potential to cause many species declines and extinctions and that there is mounting evidence that this is a more important cause of declines than has been appreciated. We summarise case studies of diseases that have affected wildlife to the point of extinction and bring together the experiences of wildlife managers, veterinarians, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, zoologists and ecologists to provide an investigation framework to help ecologists and wildlife managers address disease as a factor in wildlife declines. Catastrophic declines of wildlife may be the result of single or multiple synergistic causes, and disease should always be one factor under consideration, unless proven otherwise. In a rapidly changing world where emerging infectious diseases have become increasingly common, the need to consider diseases has never been more important.

  • All
  • 2013
  • Biogeography
  • Biology
  • Chlamydia
  • Diet
  • Disease
  • Ecology
  • Ellis
  • Eucalyptus
  • Genetics
  • Habitat
  • Infection
  • Interventions
  • Koala
  • Lunney
  • Threats
  • Timms
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