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Climate And Disease

Long-term observations and experiments by SEV scientists revealed an important link between human hanta-virus outbreaks and the population dynamics of small mammals in the southwestern U.S. as affected by changes in climate systems such as El Nino. The discipline of the ecology of infectious diseases that this research helped to establish is now a recognized area of ecological research.

Hjelle, B.; Chavez-Giles, F.; Torrez-Martinez, N.; Yates, T. L.; Sarisky, J.; Webb, J.; Ascher, M. . 1994. Genetic identification of a novel Hantavirus of the harvest-mouse Reithrodontomys megalotis. Journal of Virology 68:6751-6754 [SEV Pub. No. 234]
Parmenter, Robert R.; Brunt, James W.; Moore, Douglas I.; Ernest, Sarah Morgan. 1993. The Hantavirus Epidemic In The Southwest: Rodent Population Dynamics And The Implications For Transmission Of Hantavirus-associated Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (HARDS) In The Four Corners Region. Dept. of Biology: Sevilleta LTER. Report to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
Yates, T. L.; Mills, J. N.; Parmenter, C. A.; Ksiazek, T. G.; Parmenter, R. R.; Vande Castle, J. R.; Calisher, C. H.; Nichol, S. T.; Abbott, K. D.; Young, J. C.; Morrison, M. L.; Beaty, B. J.; Dunnum, J. L.; Baker, R. J.; Salazar-Bravo, J.; 2002. The ecology and evolutionary history of an emergent disease: Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. BioScience 52:989-998
Dr. Robert Parmenter (
Dr. Brian Hjelle (
Photo of a rodent sampling location at the Sevilleta LTER
Mike Friggens
Annual precipitation (top panel), Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), an index of vegetation greenness associated with vegetation productivity (middle panel) and rodent density (rodents/km2) in grasslands at the Sevilleta LTER before and after the hantavirus outbreak in the Four Corners region. Arrows between panels show the linkages between precipitation and vegetation productivity in the same year and rodent density in the following year.
Yates et al. 2002



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