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A social–ecological approach to landscape epidemiology: geographic variation and avian influenza

An Erratum to this article was published on 07 May 2015

Abstract

Context

Landscape structure influences host–parasite–pathogen dynamics at multiple scales in space and time. Landscape epidemiology, which connects disease ecology and landscape ecology, is still an emerging field.

Objective

We argue that landscape epidemiology must move beyond simply studying the influence of landscape configuration and composition on epidemiological processes and towards a more comparative, systems approach that better incorporates social–ecological complexity.

Methods

We illustrate our argument with a detailed review, based on a single conceptual systems model, of geographic variation in drivers of avian influenza in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.

Results

Our three study regions are similar in some ways but quite different in others. The same underlying mechanisms apply in all cases, but differences in the attributes of key components and linkages (most notably avian diversity, the abiotic environment, land use and land cover, and food production systems) create significant differences in avian influenza virus prevalence and human risk between regions.

Conclusions

Landscape approaches can connect local- and continental-scale elements of epidemiology. Adopting a landscape-focused systems perspective on the problem facilitates the identification of the most important commonalities and differences, guiding both science and policy, and helps to identify elements of the problem on which further research is needed. More generally, our review demonstrates the importance of social–ecological interactions and comparative approaches for landscape epidemiology.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful for funding support from a Protea Grant from the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation. This work was conducted within the framework of Cirad’s Research Platform “Production and Conservation in Partnership” and the AHEAD Initiative.

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Correspondence to Graeme S. Cumming.

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Cumming, G.S., Abolnik, C., Caron, A. et al. A social–ecological approach to landscape epidemiology: geographic variation and avian influenza. Landscape Ecol 30, 963–985 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-015-0182-8

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Keywords

  • Disease
  • Zoonosis
  • Pathogen
  • Scale
  • Anatidae
  • Complexity