Skip to main content

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Our children's and grandchildren's health depends on wise stewardship of natural ecosystems. But even as evidence amasses for links between human health and environmental change, we lack actionable solutions. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and a new scientific movement, “Planetary Health,” are drawing attention to these issues and raising questions about how habitable climate, clean water, fiber, fuel, and natural products, among other services and subsidies, relates to human health. Whereas past efforts have promoted the concept, objective scientific evaluation is lacking. Here, we aim to identify ecological “levers for health.” That is, actionable ecological/environmental drivers that lead to win-win outcomes for people and nature. For instance, some of us analyzed historical global health outcomes of various strategies for controlling human schistosomiasis, finding that ecological levers have been more effective than direct health interventions (Sokolow et al. in press [1]). To expand this effort, we propose to convene several working groups to analyze existing data on additional disease-environment systems (a goal to identify up to 10) for which evidence exists and opportunities are present to intervene through “ecological levers for health” at a local or regional level. We will also put these concrete examples in context and synthesize how they can advance a “Planetary Health” agenda for the 21st century. Lastly, a key ingredient to moving this field forward is to identify common metrics to report outcomes for health, society, and the environment. We will bring together a cross-disciplinary team to develop candidate metrics to measure health, environment, and economic outcomes in common or comparable currency.

Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Susanne H. Sokolow, Kevin D. Lafferty

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2017

End: December 31, 2019



Matthew H. Bonds
Harvard Medical School
Julien Brun
University of California, Santa Barbara
Julia Buck
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Rebecca Chaplin Kramer
Stanford University
Alexandra Cohen
Middlebury Institute of International Studies
Giulio De Leo
Stanford University
Luz De Wit
University of Vermont
Andrew P. Dobson
Princeton University
Heather Eves
The Nature Conservancy
Johanna Fornberg
University of California, Santa Barbara
Lynne Gaffikin
Stanford University
Andres Garchitorena
Harvard Medical School
Craig Groves
The Nature Conservancy
Skylar Hopkins
University of California, Santa Barbara
Isabel Jones
Hopkins Marine Station
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)
Carrie V. Kappel
University of California, Santa Barbara
Megan Kelso
University of California, Los Angeles
Armand Kuris
University of California, Santa Barbara
Laura Kwong
Stanford University
Desiree LaBeaud
Stanford University
Kevin D. Lafferty
University of California, Santa Barbara
Sandra Laney
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Christopher LeBoa
Stanford University
David Lopez-Carr
University of California, Santa Barbara
Steve Luby
Stanford University
Andrea Lund
Stanford University
Andrew J. MacDonald
Stanford University
Andy MacDonald
University of California, Santa Barbara
Lisa A Mandle
Stanford University
Drew Miller
Middlebury Institute of International Studies
Erin A. Mordecai
Stanford University
Megan Murray
Harvard Medical School
Rebekah Neal
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Nicole Nova
Stanford University
Sarah Olson
Wildlife Conservation Society
John Openshaw
Stanford University
Alison Peel
Griffith University
Raina Plowright
Pennsylvania State University
Justin V. Remais
University of California, Berkeley
Taylor Ricketts
University of Vermont
Matthew Salyer
Middlebury Institute of International Studies
Susanne H. Sokolow
Stanford University
Gary Tabor
Center for Large Landscape Conservation
Heather Tallis
The Nature Conservancy
David Tilman
University of Minnesota
Kinari Webb
Health in Harmony
Geoff Willard
University of California, Santa Barbara
Chelsea L. Wood
University of Washington
Lawrence Zikusoka
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)


  1. Journal Article / 2017

    A novel framework to account for ecological drivers in the control and elimination of environmentally transmitted disease: a modelling study

  2. Journal Article / 2020

    Aquatic macrophytes and macroinvertebrate predators affect densities of snail hosts and local production of schistosome cercariae that cause human schistosomiasis

  3. Journal Article / 2018

    Agrochemicals increase risk of human schistosomiasis by supporting higher densities of intermediate hosts

  4. Journal Article / 2020

    How to identify win-win interventions that benefit human health and conservation

  5. Journal Article / 2022

    Environmental Persistence of the World's Most Burdensome Infectious and Parasitic Diseases

  6. Journal Article / 2022

    Evidence gaps and diversity among potential win–win solutions for conservation and human infectious disease control

  7. Journal Article / 2020

    Improving rural health care reduces illegal logging and conserves carbon in a tropical forest

  8. Journal Article / 2021

    Schistosome infection in Senegal is associated with different spatial extents of risk and ecological drivers for Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni

  9. Journal Article / 2018

    Unique parasite aDNA in moa coprolites from New Zealand suggests mass parasite extinctions followed human-induced megafauna extinctions

  10. Journal Article / 2017

    General ecological models for human subsistence, health and poverty

  11. Journal Article / 2019

    Emerging human infectious diseases and the links to global food production

  12. Journal Article / 2019

    Ecological interventions to prevent and manage zoonotic pathogen spillover

  13. Journal Article / 2022

    Averting wildlife-borne infectious disease epidemics requires a focus on socio-ecological drivers and a redesign of the global food system

Are you part of a working group or visiting NCEAS for another opportunity? Check out our page of resources for you.

Learn More