EcoHealth Alliance Disease Discovery Experts Expand Focus On Species Declines To Honey Bees

Jun 06, 2012, 14:58 ET from EcoHealth Alliance

New York and Washington, DC Events Highlight Research Methodology on Amphibian Declines Implemented to Study Honey Bees

NEW YORK, June 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on local conservation and global health issues, announced this week at New York City and Washington, DC events the expansion of its programs to include the study of honey bee health. Leveraging the organization's independent scientific expertise, EcoHealth Alliance scientists are building on the methodology used to understand global amphibian declines and apply that knowledge to study similar issues facing honey bees.

This new work is of critical and immediate importance for both conservation and economic reasons. Honey bees are a species responsible for pollination of crops worth U.S. $215 billion annually worldwide.

Disease ecologist, Dr. Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance, led a collaboration of scientists to uncover the underlying cause of frog species decline from habitats spanning North, Central and South America as well as Australia. The discovery of chytridiomycosis – the fungal disease causing wide spread amphibian losses – was a breakthrough amidst the vast speculation of presumed factors. Those speculated factors included pollution, pesticides, disease, climate change, habitat loss and the pet and food trade in frogs. "With more than a decade of research focused on amphibians and chytridiomycosis, EcoHealth Alliance is well-positioned to broaden its programs to include research in honey bee declines," said Daszak.  EcoHealth Alliance and its global partners continue to research the emergence and spread of chytridiomycosis, established as a notifiable disease by the World Organization for Animal Health in 2008 as a result of the Daszak team's work.

EcoHealth Alliance's team of scientists began its understanding of issues affecting honey bee health with an extensive scientific literature review focused on economic drivers, environmental factors, pesticides, pathogens, and colony management practices.  The literature review laid the groundwork for EcoHealth Alliance to identify gaps in the current research and suggest future research directions.

In conjunction with this initial phase of investigation, a survey of beekeepers and scientists was conducted to identify their knowledge on honey bee health, and gaps between perceptions of beekeepers and scientists.  Beekeepers and expert scientists from over 20 countries around the world were contacted and asked to participate in the survey.  One of the survey's main objectives was to compare the perceptions among these groups, while also investigating beekeeper and scientist opinions on how future research should be focused to improve honey bee health.

Articles discussing the literature review and survey results are expected to be published by mid-2012 in a peer-reviewed journal as well as a beekeeping periodical. 

"Our hope with this initial study is to broaden the discussion about honey bee declines and colony losses, using sound scientific evidence and new research to examine all potential causes of these issues.  The future of a vital pollinating species is at stake, with significant conservation and economic implications weighing on our work," concluded Daszak.

About EcoHealth Alliance

Building on over 40 years of groundbreaking science, EcoHealth Alliance is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and safeguarding human health from the emergence of disease. The organization develops ways to combat the effects of damaged ecosystems on human and wildlife health.  Using environmental and health data covering the past 60 years, EcoHealth Alliance scientists created the first-ever, global disease hotspots map that identified at-risk regions, to help predict and prevent the next pandemic crisis. That work is the foundation of EcoHealth Alliance's rigorous, science-based approach, focused at the intersection of the environment, health, and capacity building.  Working in the U.S. and more than 20 countries worldwide, EcoHealth Alliance's strength is founded on innovations in research, training, global partnerships, and policy initiatives.  For more information, please visit

SOURCE EcoHealth Alliance