Host, Vector, and Pathogen Responses to Climate Change

Monday, November 30, 2009 - 9:15pm

The direct impact of climate change on pathogenic microorganisms is complicated in most instances by their obligatory dependence upon living hosts. Changes in the distribution and abundance of vectors will ultimately determine the response of most vector-borne pathogens to climate change.  The distribution and prevalence of vector-borne diseases are largely dependent on the distribution and abundance of arthropod vector species which are capable of transmitting infectious agents to humans. Arthropod vectors are exquisitely sensitive to environmental variables, such as temperature and precipitation because they are small, ectothermic, and widely dispersed in the environment. Global or regional changes in climate seem certain to influence the distribution and abundance of vector taxa (mosquitoes, other flies, fleas, ticks, etc.) that spend substantial or critical periods of time independent of their host. The diversity of vector species and their highly variable adaptations to existing climatic conditions pose a serious challenge to our understanding of changing vector/climate relationships.

This workshop provided an opportunity to review and discuss the state of current knowledge on how vector-borne diseases will respond to climate change. Insight from a broad range of disciplines by keynote speakers provided background for in-depth discussions on common methods and approaches to identify gaps in knowledge, improve methodologies, and foster increased collaboration among relevant disciplines.

Organizers: 

Durland Fish, School of Public Health
Maria Duik-Wasser, School of Public Health
Oswald Schmitz, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
David Skelly, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Paul Turner, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology