Diverse Ecosystems Support Better Economies

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There are fewer incidences of human disease in biodiverse regions: could predation and competition hold the key? Photo: Leszek Leszinski / CC by 2.0

A Call for Further Research to Investigate The Connections Between Biodiversity and Health

Why are diverse ecosystems and human health connected? Since this discovery was not the focus of the study, Bonds is not sure why the correlation exists. He’s hoping that someone will ask why the connection is so strong and carry the research forward.

Could it be that a diverse environment works to control disease through competition and predation?

Many human diseases spend a good part of their life cycle outside humans, and are moved by other elements in the environment, such as animals. These animals are called disease vectors.

It may be that in diverse ecosystems, the stress of competition and predation makes it harder for disease vectors to survive. Bonds hopes that the study will facilitate dialogue between economists and ecologists and lead to further research into the biodiversity – health connection.

At the moment, his focus is on the micro-scale, concentrating on understanding the local economies in communities that are heavily impacted by disease.

Ecosystems, Populations, and Economies

Ecologists have long said that healthy ecosystems, healthy populations, and healthy economies are related. Traditional economic models see the economy as a very human system, one that’s separate from nature. In this model, nature is the source of the raw materials that allow people to make things. Environmental economics brings the ecosystem further into the picture, recognizing that human societies, economies, and ecosystems are connected. Bonds’ profoundly interdisciplinary study blows away the barriers between disciplines, showing that a rich ecosystems are connected to better human health, and that healthy human populations support a more robust economy. Human and natural systems are indeed part of an interconnected whole.

Resources

Bonds, Matthew. Personal Interview. December 27th, 2012.

Bonds, M.H., Dobson, A.P, and D.C. Keenan. Disease ecology, biodiversity, and the latitudinal gradient in income. (2012). PLoS Biology. Accessed December 27, 2012.

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