Opportunities for Transdisciplinary Science to Mitigate Biosecurity Risks From the Intersectionality of Illegal Wildlife Trade With Emerging Zoonotic Pathogens

A. Alonso Aguirre*, Meredith L. Gore, Matt Kammer-Kerwick, Kevin M. Curtin, Andries Heyns, Wolfgang Preiser, Louise I. Shelley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Existing collaborations among public health practitioners, veterinarians, and ecologists do not sufficiently consider illegal wildlife trade in their surveillance, biosafety, and security (SB&S) efforts even though the risks to health and biodiversity from these threats are significant. We highlight multiple cases to illustrate the risks posed by existing gaps in understanding the intersectionality of the illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic disease transmission. We argue for more integrative science in support of decision-making using the One Health approach. Opportunities abound to apply transdisciplinary science to sustainable wildlife trade policy and programming, such as combining on-the-ground monitoring of health, environmental, and social conditions with an understanding of the operational and spatial dynamics of illicit wildlife trade. We advocate for (1) a surveillance sample management system for enhanced diagnostic efficiency in collaboration with diverse and local partners that can help establish new or link existing surveillance networks, outbreak analysis, and risk mitigation strategies; (2) novel analytical tools and decision support models that can enhance self-directed local livelihoods by addressing monitoring, detection, prevention, interdiction, and remediation; (3) enhanced capacity to promote joint SB&S efforts that can encourage improved human and animal health, timely reporting, emerging disease detection, and outbreak response; and, (4) enhanced monitoring of illicit wildlife trade and supply chains across the heterogeneous context within which they occur. By integrating more diverse scientific disciplines, and their respective scientists with indigenous people and local community insight and risk assessment data, we can help promote a more sustainable and equitable wildlife trade.
Original languageEnglish
Article number604929
Peer-reviewed scientific journalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 20.02.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 118,1 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • biosecurity
  • COVID-19
  • emerging infectious diseases
  • illegal wildlife trade
  • One Health
  • operations research
  • spatial analytics
  • transdisciplinarity

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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