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Bats, primates, and even snails can carry disease, and transmission dynamics change for all of these species following forest clearing, often creating a much greater threat to people.
Some 60 percent of the diseases that affect people spend part of their life cycle in wild and domestic animals.
The research work is urgent — land development is rapidly taking place across regions with high biodiversity, and the greater the number of species, the greater the number of diseases, scientists say.
Flowing water is dammed up, deliberately and inadvertently, and pools.
Because it is no longer taken up and transpired by trees, the water table rises closer to the forest floor, which can create more swampy areas.
But deforestation is having another worrisome effect: an increase in the spread of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
Destruction Forests Essay
For a host of ecological reasons, the loss of forest can act as an incubator for insect-borne and other infectious diseases that afflict humans.
“In the forest, we found almost no breeding whatsoever, and no biting by the adult mosquitoes,” Vittor said.
That’s probably because the ecology of the deforested landscape — short vegetation and deep water — favored their breeding, and they need human blood to grow their eggs.
In response to a push to use bed nets to prevent nighttime bites in malaria-prone regions of the world, for example, researchers are seeing a change in the time of day mosquitoes bite — many now target their human quarry in the hours before bed.
A study by Vittor and others found that one malaria-carrying mosquito species, in 2006.