Landscape ecological consolidation intensifies zoonotic host diversity loss and disease transmission in human habitats


Anthropogenic land use change is a significant driver of global biodiversity loss and can further threaten public health through biological interactions. Understanding these landscape-ecological effects at a local scale can aid in achieving Sustainable Development Goals by balancing urbanization, biodiversity, and the spread of infectious diseases. Here, we address this knowledge gap by analyzing a 41-year dataset (1980-2020) of synanthropic rodents in central China during land consolidation. We observed a significant increase in mean patch size, coinciding with a marked decline in rodent diversity, as eight of the nine local rodent species experience near-extirpation. Our analysis reveals this simultaneous phenomenon is attributed to the effect of mean patch size on interspecific competition among rodents, favoring the striped field mice, a critical reservoir host of Hantaan virus (HTNV). Consequently, the decrease in rodent diversity has facilitated the proliferation of striped field mice and elevated the prevalence of HTNV among this species. Our findings demonstrate that anthropogenic land use change affects rodents not only directly, through influencing mortality rates, but also indirectly, through interspecific competition. This study highlights the importance of considering both direct and indirect effects of anthropogenic activities in managing biodiversity and public health.

Chuliang Song
Chuliang Song
(Incoming) Asssistant Professor

I am a quantitative ecologist driven by the curiosity of how biodiversity is generated and maintained.

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