Global Mapping of Ecosystem Disservices: The Unspoken Reality that Nature Sometimes Kills us



Increasingly, we view nature through a utilitarian lens that leads us to attempt to measure and manage the services that species, habitats and ecosystems provide. Surprisingly, we have tended to consider only the positive values of ecosystems, their ecosystem services. In addition to providing our food and water, Nature also kills us, primarily through disease. If we are to effectively manage the terrestrial Earth, we need to also manage species, habitats and ecosystems so as to minimize such ‘ecosystem disservices’. I consider what we know about the spatial pattern of one disservice, pathogen prevalence and how changes in habitat influence it. I consider the effects of habitat changes on pathogen prevalence and, consequently, ecosystem disservices. In the end, we need to weigh both the costs and the benefits of particular ecosystems, habitats and species – to consider the bad with the good. Doing so requires that we learn much more about the biota than we currently know.