The researchers added that deforestation is also associated with an increased emergence of pathogens in bats around the world, due to the creation of patches of habitat that isolate or divide populations.
This can alter the behaviour of the flying mammals, reduce their biodiversity, and compromise the ecosystem functions they offer, the scientists said.
They explained that such conditions increase public health risks as they create diverse wildlifelivestockhuman interfaces where viruses
and other pathogens can easily be transmitted, as in the case of the virus that causes Covid-19.
In the research, the scientists assessed how changes in land-use -- such as deforestation, urbanisation, and conversion to agriculture -- have affected such transmission.
The study authors call for more research to help predict how new diseases emerge and spread in response to land-use changes.
"We highlight major gaps in our understanding of how land-use change affects the spread of diseases from mammals to humans in terms of how key hosts, like bats, are affected," said study co-author Orly Razgour from the University of Exeter.
The scientists believe that there is an urgent need for more studies that link animal ecology and responses to land-use change with pathogen ecology and disease spread.