As the frequency and prevalence of zoonotic diseases increase worldwide, investigating how mammal host distributions determine patterns of human disease and predicting which regions are at greatest risk for future zoonotic disease emergence are two goals which both require better understanding of the current distributions of zoonotic hosts and pathogens. We review here the existing data about mammalian host species, comparing and contrasting these patterns against global maps of zoonotic hosts from all 27 orders of terrestrial mammals. We discuss the zoonotic potential of host species from the top six most species-rich mammal groups, and review the literature to identify analytical and conceptual gaps that must be addressed to improve our ability to generate testable predictions about zoonotic diseases originating from wild mammals.
Keywords: biogeography; hotspot; infectious disease; macroecology; prediction; risk.
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