A major effort in the Ostfeld lab is the theoretical development and empirical testing of the Dilution Effect, which describes the mechanisms by which vertebrate diversity protects people against exposure to zoonotic diseases. Intensive study of the ecology of Lyme disease has been instrumental in developing this theory
Biodiversity, Community Ecology, and the Dilution Effect
Biodiversity can protect human health by reducing the probability of human exposure to disease agents transmitted from wildlife. Human-induced environmental changes, such as habitat fragmentation, can inadvertently increase disease risk by reducing both predators and biodiversity.