Infectious diseases can cause rapid population declines or species extinctions. Many pathogens of terrestrial and marine taxa are sensitive to temperature, rainfall, and humidity, creating synergisms that could affect biodiversity. Climate warming can increase pathogen development and survival rates, disease transmission, and host susceptibility. Although most host-parasite systems are predicted to experience more frequent or severe disease impacts with warming, a subset of pathogens might decline with warming, releasing hosts from disease. Recently, changes in El Niño–Southern Oscillation events have had a detectable influence on marine and terrestrial pathogens, including coral diseases, oyster pathogens, crop pathogens, Rift Valley fever, and human cholera. To improve our ability to predict epidemics in wild populations, it will be necessary to separate the independent and interactive effects of multiple climate drivers on disease impact.
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Climate warming and disease risks for terrestrial and marine biota