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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Land-use change is rapidly converting forests and savannas into ‘anthro-habitat’: land whose primary focus is the production of agriculture, shopping or sports facilities, or housing estates; all of which provide some direct benefit to the human economy. But how do these changes modify habitats in ways that change the probability of infectious disease outbreaks? Habitat conversion significantly alters the interactions between the environment and populations of humans and domestic livestock. The resulting changes in the infection dynamics of many vector- and water-borne disease systems could create new opportunities for pathogen infections, or could modify the dynamics towards pathogen reduction or eradication. In this working group we undertake a series of synthetic examinations that bring together geographical data on land-use change with data on disease and vector distributions and host abundance in order to develop mathematical and heuristic models of disease risk. The goal is to understand the impact of land use change on disease ecology so that development planners can minimize disease risk and maximize direct and indirect economic benefits. Our focus is on the classic diseases of poverty: malaria, schistosomiasis, cholera, Chagas disease and African trypanosomiasis. Our approaches will build upon the large sets of data available for these pathogens to develop synthetic model frameworks that can produce locally specific, anthropologically appropriate, actionable recommendations for minimizing disease risk. This framework will ultimately be adaptable to examine the interactions between land use change and a broad variety of pathogens.
Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Andrew P. Dobson, Nita Bharti, Matthew H. Bonds

Project Dates

Start: November 1, 2012

End: September 30, 2013



Marcella Alsan
Harvard University
Andres Baeza
University of Michigan
Nita Bharti
Stanford University
Laura Bloomfield
Stanford University
Matthew H. Bonds
Harvard University
Giulio De Leo
Stanford University
Andrew P. Dobson
Princeton University
Christina Faust
Princeton University
Thomas Gillespie
Emory University
Nicole Gottdenker
University of Georgia
Petra Klepac
University of Cambridge
Eric Lambin
Stanford University
Michael Levy
University of Pennsylvania
Hamish McCallum
Griffith University
Calistus Ngonghala
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Mercedes Pascual
University of Michigan
Raina Plowright
Pennsylvania State University
Andy Tatem
Universty of Florida


  1. Journal Article / 2018

    Pathogen spillover during land conversion

  2. Journal Article / 2013

    Land-Use Change and Emerging Infectious Disease on an Island Continent

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