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The rise and fall of malaria under land-use change in frontier regions

Abstract

Land-use change is the main force behind ecological and social change in many countries around the globe; it is primarily driven by resource needs and external economic incentives. Concomitantly, transformations of the land are the main drivers for the emergence and re-emergence of malaria. An understanding of malaria population dynamics in transforming landscapes is lacking, despite its relevance for developmental and public health policies. We develop a mathematical model that couples malaria epidemiology with the socio-economic and demographic processes that occur in a landscape undergoing land-use change. This allows us to identify different types of malaria dynamics that can arise in early stages of this transformation. In particular, we show that an increase in transmission followed by either a decline, or a further enhancement, of risk is a common outcome. This increase results from the asymmetry between the relatively fast ecological changes in transformed landscapes, and the slower pace of investment in malaria protection. These results underscore the importance of reducing ecological risk, while providing services and economic opportunities to early migrants for longer periods. Consideration of these socio-ecological processes and, more importantly, the temporal scale on which they act, is critical to avoid potential bifurcations that lead to long-lasting endemic malaria.

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Figure 1: Graphical description of the processes of land transformation and their association with malaria.
Figure 2: The typology of malaria incidence under land transformation.
Figure 3: Summary of statistical analyses of simulation outputs.
Figure 4: Relationship between cases per person at equilibrium and the values of significant parameters in determining convexity.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) (grant no. DBI-1052875) through the postdoctoral fellowship programme to A.B. and the venture working group Land Use & Infectious Diseases jointly with the National Center for Ecological Synthesis (NCEAS) to A.P.D. We especially thank M. Bonds, C. Ngonghala, G. De Leo, N. Gottdenker and the rest of the working group for their insightful comments during our meetings in Annapolis.

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Contributions

A.B., M.S.-V., A.P.D. and M.P. formulated the model. A.B. and M.S.-V. conducted the numerical and statistical analyses, and all the authors contributed to the final writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andres Baeza.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

The mathematical model used in the analysis; Supplementary Tables 1–10; Supplementary Figures 1,2; Supplementary References. (PDF 599 kb)

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Baeza, A., Santos-Vega, M., Dobson, A. et al. The rise and fall of malaria under land-use change in frontier regions. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0108 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0108

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