Biodiversity loss is one of the most severe global environmental problems caused by habitat loss, leading to functional diversity changes and profound cascading effects on the abundance, composition, and ecology of fauna and flora. These changes affect species interactions and ecological function and services, with impacts that can reach human health and well-being, primarily through changes in disease regulation services. The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is a hotspot for biodiversity and rodent diversity, with most rodent species considered pathogen reservoirs or hyper reservoir species, making the area a hotspot for future emerging infectious diseases. Marsh Institute Researcher Florencia Sangermano (Geography) recently received funding from the National Science Foundation for the project Land Use Change, Ecosystem Resilience and Zoonotic Spillover Risk, which will: (1) evaluate the effects of habitat loss on small mammals’ functional diversity (i.e., community composition and interaction network structure), and assess their effect on pathogen spillover risk throughout the Brazilian Atlantic Forest; and (2) evaluate the effects of forest restoration on the recovery of small mammals’ functional diversity and the associated reduction of spillover risk.
For full project descriptions, see the Marsh Institute Research Projects web page.