Causal inference in disease ecology

Investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence

Raina K. Plowright, Susanne H. Sokolow, Michael E. Gorman, Peter Daszak, Janet E Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

186 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite awareness that disease emergence may be related to ecological change, few studies have rigorously analyzed the underlying environmental drivers of the dynamics of disease emergence. This may be due to the fact that ecological change and disease emergence are often mediated through complex and large-scale processes that are not amenable to traditional reductionist approaches to causal inference. Here, we suggest strategies assembled from diverse disciplines, including ecology, epidemiology, and the social sciences, to analyze complex relationships, promote cooperation, increase efficiency, and minimize bias when investigating the ecological drivers of disease emergence. These techniques, which complement traditional hypothesis testing, include epidemiologic causal criteria, strong inference, causal diagrams, model selection, and triangulation. We also present several examples from recent emerging infectious disease investigations, including Hendra virus, Nipah virus, coral diseases, and avian influenza, where these techniques were successfully applied. Here, we outline some of the barriers to advancing our understanding of causation in disease ecology and offer some solutions for investigating large-scale ecological drivers, such as global warming, pollution, and land-use change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-429
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume6
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Fingerprint

Nipah virus
Hendra virus
ecology
social sciences
emerging diseases
avian influenza
land use change
global warming
epidemiology
corals
complement
pollution
virus
methodology
hypothesis testing
triangulation
testing
infectious disease
coral
diagram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Causal inference in disease ecology : Investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence. / Plowright, Raina K.; Sokolow, Susanne H.; Gorman, Michael E.; Daszak, Peter; Foley, Janet E.

In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 6, No. 8, 10.2008, p. 420-429.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Plowright, Raina K. ; Sokolow, Susanne H. ; Gorman, Michael E. ; Daszak, Peter ; Foley, Janet E. / Causal inference in disease ecology : Investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence. In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2008 ; Vol. 6, No. 8. pp. 420-429.
@article{c061e0671e9645d5acc3b93a614e3d21,
title = "Causal inference in disease ecology: Investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence",
abstract = "Despite awareness that disease emergence may be related to ecological change, few studies have rigorously analyzed the underlying environmental drivers of the dynamics of disease emergence. This may be due to the fact that ecological change and disease emergence are often mediated through complex and large-scale processes that are not amenable to traditional reductionist approaches to causal inference. Here, we suggest strategies assembled from diverse disciplines, including ecology, epidemiology, and the social sciences, to analyze complex relationships, promote cooperation, increase efficiency, and minimize bias when investigating the ecological drivers of disease emergence. These techniques, which complement traditional hypothesis testing, include epidemiologic causal criteria, strong inference, causal diagrams, model selection, and triangulation. We also present several examples from recent emerging infectious disease investigations, including Hendra virus, Nipah virus, coral diseases, and avian influenza, where these techniques were successfully applied. Here, we outline some of the barriers to advancing our understanding of causation in disease ecology and offer some solutions for investigating large-scale ecological drivers, such as global warming, pollution, and land-use change.",
author = "Plowright, {Raina K.} and Sokolow, {Susanne H.} and Gorman, {Michael E.} and Peter Daszak and Foley, {Janet E}",
year = "2008",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1890/070086",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "6",
pages = "420--429",
journal = "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment",
issn = "1540-9295",
publisher = "Ecological Society of America",
number = "8",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Causal inference in disease ecology

T2 - Investigating ecological drivers of disease emergence

AU - Plowright, Raina K.

AU - Sokolow, Susanne H.

AU - Gorman, Michael E.

AU - Daszak, Peter

AU - Foley, Janet E

PY - 2008/10

Y1 - 2008/10

N2 - Despite awareness that disease emergence may be related to ecological change, few studies have rigorously analyzed the underlying environmental drivers of the dynamics of disease emergence. This may be due to the fact that ecological change and disease emergence are often mediated through complex and large-scale processes that are not amenable to traditional reductionist approaches to causal inference. Here, we suggest strategies assembled from diverse disciplines, including ecology, epidemiology, and the social sciences, to analyze complex relationships, promote cooperation, increase efficiency, and minimize bias when investigating the ecological drivers of disease emergence. These techniques, which complement traditional hypothesis testing, include epidemiologic causal criteria, strong inference, causal diagrams, model selection, and triangulation. We also present several examples from recent emerging infectious disease investigations, including Hendra virus, Nipah virus, coral diseases, and avian influenza, where these techniques were successfully applied. Here, we outline some of the barriers to advancing our understanding of causation in disease ecology and offer some solutions for investigating large-scale ecological drivers, such as global warming, pollution, and land-use change.

AB - Despite awareness that disease emergence may be related to ecological change, few studies have rigorously analyzed the underlying environmental drivers of the dynamics of disease emergence. This may be due to the fact that ecological change and disease emergence are often mediated through complex and large-scale processes that are not amenable to traditional reductionist approaches to causal inference. Here, we suggest strategies assembled from diverse disciplines, including ecology, epidemiology, and the social sciences, to analyze complex relationships, promote cooperation, increase efficiency, and minimize bias when investigating the ecological drivers of disease emergence. These techniques, which complement traditional hypothesis testing, include epidemiologic causal criteria, strong inference, causal diagrams, model selection, and triangulation. We also present several examples from recent emerging infectious disease investigations, including Hendra virus, Nipah virus, coral diseases, and avian influenza, where these techniques were successfully applied. Here, we outline some of the barriers to advancing our understanding of causation in disease ecology and offer some solutions for investigating large-scale ecological drivers, such as global warming, pollution, and land-use change.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=39149131509&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=39149131509&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1890/070086

DO - 10.1890/070086

M3 - Article

VL - 6

SP - 420

EP - 429

JO - Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

JF - Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

SN - 1540-9295

IS - 8

ER -