Auburn University researchers have published a new hypothesis that could provide the foundation for new scientific studies looking into the association of habitat loss and the global emergence of infectious diseases. Globally, scientists believe habitat loss is associated with emerging infectious diseases, or EIDs, spreading from wildlife to humans, such as Ebola, West Nile virus, SARS, Marburg virus and others. The Auburn team developed a new hypothesis, the coevolution effect, which is rooted in ecology and evolutionary biology, to explain the underlying mechanisms that drive this association. "We provide a testable hypothesis that we hope other researchers will try to test with their data, as we will be doing," Schwartz said. "Through our hypothesis, we propose that as humans alter the landscape through habitat loss, forest fragments act as islands, and the wildlife hosts and disease-causing microbes that live within them undergo rapid diversification," Zohdy said.