Elevated Co2 And Disease Vectors

One of the main concerns voiced about global warming is that the delicate balance between diseases, their vectors, and humans might be upset as tropical climates that are so hospitable to spawning and spreading diseases move poleward. The spread of infectious diseases is controlled by the range of their vectors— mosquitoes and other insects. Increases in temperatures mean increases in the activity and ranges of these vectors.

Data on recent trends support this observation. An increase of one degree Celsius in the average temperature in Rwanda in 1987 was accompanied by a 337% rise in the incidence of malaria that year as mosquitoes moved into mountainous areas they had not previously inhabited. Also, Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever, has extended its range high into the mountain areas of such diverse areas as Colombia, India, and Kenya. Although global warming is expected to deliver its most deadly punch in the tropical areas of the world, where over 500-million people are affected (and 2.7 million die), the United States is not immune. A computer model by a Dutch public health team proposed that an average global temperature increase of 3°C in the next century could result in 50 to 80 million new cases of malaria each year. In the United States, public health facilities are likely to keep new incidences of disease in humans to a minimum, because of vaccinations. But disease outbreak in wildlife, which is not vaccinated, could be more severe.

See Also the Following Articles

Aquatic Habitats • Growth, Individual • Malaria • Pollution • Temperature, Effects on Development and Growth

Further Reading

Bezemer, T. M. and Jones, T. H. (1998). Plant—insect herbivore interactions in elevated and atmospheric CO2: Quantitative analysis and guild effects. Olkos 82, 212-222. Coviella, C. E., and Trumble, J. T. (1999). Effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on insect-plant interactions. Conserv. Biol. 13, 700-712. Drake, B., Gonzalez-Meler, M., and Long, S. P. (1997). More efficient plants: A consequence of rising atmospheric CO2. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 48, 607-637. Houghton, J. T., Meira Filko, L. G., Callander, B. A., Harris, M., Kattenburg, A., and Maskell, K. (1995). "Climate Change 1995. Science of Climate Change." Cambridge University Press, New York. Keeling, C. D., and Whorf, T. P. (2000). Atmospheric CO2 records from sites in the SIO via sampling network. In "Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change." Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN. Parmessan, C., Ryrholm, N., Stefanesu, C., Hill, J. K., Thomas, C. P., Descimon, H., Huntley, B., Kaila, L., Kullberg, J., Tammaru, T., Tennett, W. J., Thomas, J. A., and Warren, M. (1999). Poleward shifts in geographical ranges of butterfly species associated with regional warming. Nature 399, 579-583. Stiling, P. (2002). "Ecology: Theories and Applications." 4th ed. Prentice

Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Stiling, P., Rossi, A. M., Hungate, B., Dijkstra, P. D., Hinkle, C. R., Knott, W. M., and Drake, B. (1999). Decreased leaf-miner abundance in elevated CO2: Reduced leaf quality and increased parasitoid attack. Ecol. Appl. 9, 240-244.

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