Research Article

Divergent impacts of warming weather on wildlife disease risk across climates

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Science  20 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6519, eabb1702
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1702

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Climate change alters disease risks

Climate change appears to be provoking changes in the patterns and intensity of infectious diseases. For example, when conditions are cool, amphibians from warm climates experience greater burdens of infection by chytrid fungus than hosts from cool regions. Cohen et al. undertook a global metanalysis of 383 studies to test whether this “thermal mismatch” hypothesis holds true over the gamut of host-pathogen relationships. The authors combined date and location data with a selection of host and parasite traits and weather data. In the resulting model, fungal disease risk increased sharply under cold abnormalities in warm climates, whereas bacterial disease prevalence increased sharply under warm abnormalities in cool climates. Warming is projected to benefit helminths more than other parasites, and viral infections showed less obvious relationships with climate change.

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