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What evidence exists on the impact of specific ecosystem components and functions on infectious diseases? A systematic map

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 18:22 authored by Lea Lugassy, Ludivine Amdouni-Boursier, Haoues Alout, Romuald Berrebi, Christophe Boëte, Franck Boué, Nathalie Boulanger, Thierry Durand, Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky, Sylvain Larrat, Marie Moinet, Catherine Moulia, Nonito Pages, Olivier Plantard, Vincent Robert, Barbara Livoreil
Background: The control and prevention of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases is often based on the reduction of host or vector populations, involving but not limited to preventative culling and use of insecticides. Yet, destructive interventions such as these have shown several limitations including ineffectiveness on arthropods and negative impacts on ecosystems. An alternative strategy would be to rely on the natural ecosystem functions and their careful management to regulate such diseases. The goal of our work was to evaluate existing scientific evidence on potential links between ecosystem components/functions and 14 vector-borne and zoonotic diseases impacting human health and answer the question: “What evidence exists on the impact of specific ecosystem components and functions on infectious diseases?”. Methods: We searched for scientific articles published in English and French and screened them in a 3-round process (title, abstract and full-text). Articles were retained, without any geographical limitation, if they matched the following eligibility criteria: an exposure/intervention linked to changes in biological communities, habitats, or landscapes; an outcome consisting of any measure of infection in vector, animal or human hosts; and the presence of a comparator, in time and/or in space. The results are presented as a systematic map, followed by a narrative review where the amount of papers allowed for synthesis. Results: Searches in 5 scientific publication databases allowed to retrieve 9723 unique articles, among which 207 were retained after the screening process. The amount of relevant literature was highly variable depending on diseases, and the types of exposures also varied greatly among studies focusing on the same disease. A hundred articles presented in the map were unique in their “disease x exposure” combination and thus not eligible for further narrative description. The remaining 107 articles were organized in 34 “disease x exposure” groups, encompassing 9 out of the 14 initial diseases. The groups were composed of 2 to 16 articles and were examined to provide a description of the current state of knowledge for those diseases. Conclusion: Studies investigating the interaction between infectious diseases and ecosystems components and functions are still very scarce, and certain diseases are much more studied than others. Out of 14 diseases, 8 generated less than 10 relevant articles, while 2 diseases (Lyme disease and West Nile disease) represented 44% of all relevant studies. Although several vector-borne diseases included in the review represent a major health issue in the world, such as malaria or dengue, they have been exclusively studied under the prism of land-use, and we were unable to find relevant studies that tested the regulatory role of animal biodiversity-related functions. The role of predation in the regulation of vector and host populations has rarely been studied, with the exception of schistosomiasis. The dilution and amplification effects were addressed in several studies focusing on the composition of ecological communities. This map is a first step and could be upgraded in order to guide future research projects with the aim to conduct meta-analysis and build a robust evidence base to inform decision-making.


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© 2021 BioMed Central Ltd unless otherwise stated. Part of Springer Nature.


  • English

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Springer Nature

Journal title

Environmental Evidence




Lugassy, L., Amdouni-Boursier, L., Alout, H., Berrebi, R., Boëte, C., Boué, F., … Livoreil, B. (2021). What evidence exists on the impact of specific ecosystem components and functions on infectious diseases? A systematic map. Environmental Evidence, 10, 11. doi:10.1186/s13750-021-00220-4

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