There is a lot in the media these days about how protecting biodiversity reduces the risk of zoonotic disease spillover, and hence the risk of epidemics and pandemics. There seems to be a lot of good evidence for this in published studies on the topic, but how universal is such a conclusion? What is the science behind it? What about context? Are there exceptions to the rule?
Dan Salkeld is a disease ecologist, and professor at Colorado State University. He has been addressing this topic in the literature for years, and shares some of his conclusions with us. We also talk a little more broadly about the trend, in the literature, towards making generic causal links, when the sum of the data show correlations of varying strength, and include exceptions.
03:10: Main factors likely to increase the risk of zoonotic disease spillover
05:08: Relationship between biodiversity and spillover risk; the dilution effect and amplification effect
12:32: The role of scale in spillover
13:55: The state of the debate regarding the links between biodiversity and spillover
18:18: Claims of causation and consensus
22:34: Results that don't get published
26:09: Communicating nuanced messages to the broader public