ON LOOKING ACROSS SCALES IN DISEASE ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

Over the past few decades, it has become clear that ecological and evolutionary dynamics are influenced by processes operating across spatial and temporal scales. Processes that operate on small spatial scales have the potential to influence dynamics at much larger scales; for example, a change in the physiology of a primary producer can alter primary productivity in an ecosystem. Similarly, evolution—a process that historically was thought of as occurring at longer timescales—can influence ecological dynamics and vice versa.

The importance of considering multiple scales is broadly true in ecology and evolution, and it is especially important for studies of disease ecology and evolution. Yet characterizing the scales at which individual studies operate is surprisingly challenging, as we (re)discovered while trying to characterize articles published in this journal over the past three decades. However, while it is difficult to determine where one scale ends and another begins, it is also clear that work that spans across a spectrum can yield insights that could not be gleaned from a narrower focus.

To demonstrate this, we highlight studies previously published in this journal that show the value of working across scales. We then introduce the six articles that comprise this Focused Topic section. Together, these articles present systems, theory, and methods that provide important insights that could not have been obtained from studying a single scale in isolation.

*This contribution is the introduction to a Focused Topic organized by Bret Elderd, Nicole Mideo, and Meghan Duffy featuring studies bridging across scales in disease ecology and evolution.

 

For more on this: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/an/current