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Integrative approaches to the study of primate infectious disease: implications for biodiversity conservation and global health.

Abstract

The close phylogenetic relationship between humans and nonhuman primates, coupled with the exponential expansion of human populations and human activities within primate habitats, has resulted in exceptionally high potential for pathogen exchange. Emerging infectious diseases are a consequence of this process that has the capacity to threaten global health and drive primate population declines. Integration of standardized empirical data collection, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and the comparative approach offers the opportunity to create a baseline for patterns of infection in wild primate populations; to better understand the role of disease in primate ecology, behavior, and evolution; and to examine how anthropogenic effects alter the zoonotic potential of various pathogenic organisms. We review these technologies and approaches, including noninvasive sampling in field conditions, and we identify ways in which integrative research activities are likely to fuel future discoveries in primate disease ecology. In addition to considering applied aspects of disease research in primate health and conservation, we review how these approaches are shedding light on parasite biodiversity and the drivers of disease risk across primate species.

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