Biodiversity and disease: a synthesis of ecological perspectives on Lyme disease transmission

Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Apr;28(4):239-47. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.10.011. Epub 2012 Nov 23.


Recent reviews have argued that disease control is among the ecosystem services yielded by biodiversity. Lyme disease (LD) is commonly cited as the best example of the 'diluting' effect of biodiversity on disease transmission, but many studies document the opposite relationship, showing that human LD risk can increase with forestation. Here, we unify these divergent perspectives and find strong evidence for a positive link between biodiversity and LD at broad spatial scales (urban to suburban to rural) and equivocal evidence for a negative link between biodiversity and LD at varying levels of biodiversity within forests. This finding suggests that, across zoonotic disease agents, the biodiversity-disease relationship is scale dependent and complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Ixodidae / microbiology
  • Ixodidae / physiology
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology
  • Lyme Disease / transmission*
  • Models, Biological