Chapter 69 : A Global Challenge

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The main refuge for waterfowl in Europe, one of a series created across the continent to provide sanctuary for birds flying on their long migrations, is Donana National Park in southwestern Spain. It receives continual expert attention from both ornithologists and biologists concerned with other aspects of conservation. Investgators highlighted that the severe cascade of deaths in the Doñana National Park can be explained by the role of cyanotoxins in the food web. First, cyanotoxins affect bird species that consume the cyanobacterial scum. At the same time, cyanotoxins accumulate in zooplankton and aquatic invertebrates; hence the cyanotoxins affect fish that feed on plankton. Finally, piscivorous birds consume cyanotoxins in the contaminated fish. The conclusion was that the levels of microcystin detected in the livers of the dead birds and fish were sufficient to explain the mass mortality. The scale of the dangers of cyanobacteria for human health is illustrated by the situation in Taihu, China’s third largest lake. Evidence that global warming is affecting cyanobacterial populations comes from the substantial extension of geographical ranges. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that dengue fever was likely to become more common as a result of global warming and also mentioned malaria, which has attracted the most attention in this context, but highlighted dengue, a more urban disease, since climatic change is likely to play an even more important role in its spatial and temporal distribution. Several reports have indicated effects of global warming on some infections.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. A Global Challenge, p 322-326. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch69
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