Wildlife Health and Environmental
New Challenges and Opportunities
Jamie K. Reaser
Edward J. Gentz
Edward E. Clark, Jr.
Environmental security is the concept that social (and thus political and economic) stability affects, and is affected by, the abundance and distribution of natural resources. Poor human health, mass human migrations, and border zone conflicts are often symptoms of environmental insecurity, when human populations perceive that they are not able to acquire natural resources at an adequate level to sustain themselves (Dabelko 1998; Kennedy 1998; U. S. Department of State 1997). When the environment is adversely stressed, the ability of natural biological processes to maintain and renew the structure and function of ecosystems, the ultimate source of natural resources, is compromised (Daily 1997; Spellerberg 1996). We face ever-increasing threats to environmental security in this millennium: the demand for natural resources will intensify as the human population tops 7.5 billion by 2015 (OECD 1997), the climate continues to warm (IPCC 1996; Gore 1992), and advanced technologies will enable resource extraction more extensively and at faster rates than at any time in history.
Mortality is a crude measure of stress. Yet, the information typically used to gauge environmental condition, and thus environmental security, derives from the assessment of trends in biodiversity, especially the decline and decimation of certain species (Halvorson and Davis 1996; Soule´ 1986; Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1981). However, by the time a decline in a population is perceived, the factors that led to the decline are often indeterminable, population recovery is costly if not impossible, and the repercussions of the decline have had a broad negative impact throughout the ecosystem (Spellerberg 1996; Soule´ 1986). Because acute and chronic stress may each contribute to detectable illness before death, the