The Macroecology of Infectious Disease
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
344, Baltimore Convention Center
Patrick R. Stephens
John L. Gittleman
A critical issue facing modern science is identifying global-scale patterns and drivers of infectious diseases and their impacts on humans and natural ecosystems. Despite decades of research on pathogen ecology and emergence, many fundamental questions have only recently been addressed at very large spatial and taxonomic scales, such as what drives global patterns of pathogen diversity and endemism, are their generalizable predictors of cross-species transmission and zoonotic disease emergence, and how might anthropogenic disturbances such as habitat loss and climate change impact regional variation in disease outcomes? Macroecology, a synthetic approach to patterns and processes at large spatial, temporal and taxonomic scales, is rapidly unifying many disparate fields, including behavior, ecology, evolution, sustainability, social demographics, and economics. Our organized oral session will showcase how the perspectives and tools of macroecology can transform scientific understanding of infectious disease ecology. Integrating macroecology and infectious disease ecology has the potential to provide insights about scaling properties across all living taxa, novel methodological approaches for mapping pathogen diversity and risk, and, ultimately, a framework for more accurately predicting global patterns of infectious disease and emergence in the face of rapid environmental change.