About this Research Topic
The possible negative effects on the environment caused by development, industrial or infrastructural projects driven by humans are numerous, with many of them having a direct impact on animal health and behaviour. Examples of these are climate changes, habitat fragmentation and deforestation, pollution, introduction of species (invasive species), environment degradation, and resource depletion, among others. Species abilities to cope with changes in the environment can be explained in a great extent by behavioural plasticity and coping styles (behavioural syndromes), with some species being more successful than others. Behavioural responses can be maladaptive leading to a species decline or appropriate behavioural responses to these novel environments leading to adaptation, but also facilitating species invasions. Behavioural adjustments will depend for example of the animal’s previous experiences, the complexity of the environment, the ability to cope with multiple stressors and their responses to the available cues.
Environmental changes are also important drivers of a range of infectious disease outbreaks and emergence events and also modifiers of the transmission of endemic infections. These changes in turn cause a cascade of factors that exacerbate infectious disease emergence. For instance, fragmentation involves a reduction in the average size of remaining habitat patches, increasing the distance between patches and increasing the ratio of edge to interior and leading to changes in abiotic and biotic effects that can stress individuals and facilitate disease transmission. Immune systems are costly to maintain and stressed animals may lack sufficient energy to mount an effective defense, increasing the possibility that infection will lead to clinical disease and increase transmission. Increasing variation in temperatures could also stress animal populations living in fragmented habitats. Thermal stress from climate change has been hypothesized to increase individual susceptibility to infectious diseases and it has been found to produce changes in lymphocytes and specific antibody production.
The aim of this Research Topic is to bring together authors from various areas of research relating to the environmental impacts on behaviour and health. Although this Research Topic is open to any contribution we encourage to contributors interested in how environmental changes can alter behavior and how this can lead to an increase in disease susceptibility or increase in infection.
Keywords: Environment, behavior, stress, health, disease transmission
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