Disease-Smart Climate Adaptation for Wildlife Management and Conservation

Lindsey L Thurman, Katrina Alger, Olivia LeDee, Laura M Thompson, Erik Hofmeister, J Michael Hudson, et al.
Posted on: 4/25/2024 - Updated on: 4/25/2024

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Climate change is a well-documented driver and threat multiplier of infectious disease in wildlife populations. However, wildlife disease management and climate-change adaptation have largely operated in isolation. To improve conservation outcomes, we consider the role of climate adaptation in initiating or exacerbating the transmission and spread of wildlife disease and the deleterious effects thereof, as illustrated through several case studies. 

We offer insights into best practices for disease-smart adaptation, including a checklist of key factors for assessing disease risks early in the climate adaptation process. By assessing risk, incorporating uncertainty, planning for change, and monitoring outcomes, natural resource managers and conservation practitioners can better prepare for and respond to wildlife disease threats in a changing climate.


  • Although interconnected, wildlife disease management and climate-change adaptation have followed separate pathways and have yet to be formally integrated in practice
  • We offer four case studies to demonstrate how climate adaptation can have unintended consequences—including negative or maladaptive outcomes—for wildlife disease risks
  • We provide general guidance for disease-smart climate adaptation, advancing the role of conservation practitioners in reducing the risk of adverse disease outcomes


Thurman, L.L., Alger, K., LeDee, O., Thompson, L.M., Hofmeister, E., Hudson, J.M., Martin, A.M., Melvin, T.A., Olson, S.H., Pruvot, M., Rohr, J.R., Szymanksi, J.A., Oscar A Aleuy, Zuckerberg, B. (2024). Disease-smart climate adaptation for wildlife management and conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, e2716. doi:10.1002/fee.2716.

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