Biodiversity and human health: A scoping review and examples of underrepresented linkages

Jake M. Robinson, Andrew C. Breed, Araceli Camargo, Nicole Redvers, Martin F. Breed

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Abstract

Mounting evidence supports the connections between exposure to environmental typologies(such as green and blue spaces)and human health. However, the mechanistic links that connect biodiversity (the variety of life) and human health, and the extent of supporting evidence remain less clear. Here, we undertook a scoping review to map the links between biodiversity and human health and summarise the levels of associated evidence using an established weight of evidence framework. Distinct from other reviews, we provide additional context regarding the environment-microbiome-health axis, evaluate the environmental buffering pathway (e.g., biodiversity impacts on air pollution), and provide examples of three under- or minimally-represented linkages. The examples are (1) biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples' health, (2) biodiversity and urban social equity, and (3) biodiversity and COVID-19. We observed a moderate level of evidence to support the environmental microbiota-human health pathway and a moderate-high level of evidence to support broader nature pathways (e.g., greenspace) to various health outcomes, from stress reduction to enhanced wellbeing and improved social cohesion. However, studies of broader nature pathways did not typically include specific biodiversity metrics, indicating clear research gaps. Further research is required to understand the connections and causative pathways between biodiversity (e.g., using metrics such as taxonomy, diversity/richness, structure, and function) and health outcomes. There are well-established frameworks to assess the effects of broad classifications of nature on human health. These can assist future research in linking biodiversity metrics to human health outcomes. Our examples of underrepresented linkages highlight the roles of biodiversity and its loss on urban lived experiences, infectious diseases, and Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty and livelihoods. More research and awareness of these socioecological interconnections are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118115
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume246
Early online date9 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Human health
  • Green space
  • Urban green space
  • Microbiome
  • COVID-19
  • EcoHealth
  • Planetary health
  • Nature connectedness

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