^
Keep New Times Free
4

New Reports Link Climate Change to Exotic Diseases, Threats to Everglades Plants and Wildlife

Here's more news of the good things in store for South Florida if present climate change trends continue. Not.

See also: Dengue Fever Cases in Florida Confirmed

That dengue fever you heard about? The creepy disease also known as "breakbone fever" and that is normally confined to places along the equator? Expect more of that and similar insect-borne diseases. And the Everglades, formerly known as the "River of Grass"? Expect a greatly shrunken version, with mere tokens of the rich range of wildlife it once housed.

Dengue fever had disappeared from Florida and the rest of the continental U.S. in the 1930s, reemerging in Florida four years ago, with a spike this summer. That could be just a foretaste, though.

The U.N. had warned in 2006 of dengue's spread in the Americas. And in a recent issue of the journal Science, researchers from the University of Georgia and elsewhere warned of dengue, Lyme disease, and malaria as examples of shifting distributions of disease.

Noting that "Climate-induced shifts in phenology and species movements will likely affect disease dynamics," they wrote, "Many species are already moving toward higher elevations or latitudes."

Cautiously, they wrote that worldwide total incidence of such illnesses might not rise but that:

Surveillance programs capable of detecting pathogen or disease emergence are essential and, in many instances, predicting and detecting local-scale impacts might be more important than predicting global-scale changes.

The consequences of sea level rise (climate change's BFF) have been widely noted and are the focus of a conference at FAU's Fort Lauderdale campus starting tomorrow. New data from researchers at the University of Miami points out the consequences for the Everglades: Wildlife habitats are threatened.

That news appeared in a paper in the scientific journal Wetlands, the result of years of study by UM Geography prof Douglas Fuller and graduate student Yu Wang, who have been using satellite imagery to map changes in the distribution of plant life in our region.

As a UM news release summarized it: "These communities provide critical habitats to many wildlife species, and as salt water intrudes, it could spell problems for freshwater plants and animals alike."

Coincidentally or not, Fuller's expertise also includes medical geography, and he's done a good deal of work about the spread of tropical disease in Costa Rica. As climate change proceeds, his travel budget may shrink.

Sea Level Rise Summit 2013 October 16-17 The Conference Center 301 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.



I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of South Florida and help keep the future of New Times free.

Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in South Florida.