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SARS-CoV-2: Cross-scale Insights from Ecology and Evolution.


Ecological and evolutionary processes govern the fitness, propagation, and interactions of organisms through space and time, and viruses are no exception. While coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) research has primarily emphasized virological, clinical, and epidemiological perspectives, crucial aspects of the pandemic are fundamentally ecological or evolutionary. Here, we highlight five conceptual domains of ecology and evolution - invasion, consumer-resource interactions, spatial ecology, diversity, and adaptation - that illuminate (sometimes unexpectedly) the emergence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We describe the applications of these concepts across levels of biological organization and spatial scales, including within individual hosts, host populations, and multispecies communities. Together, these perspectives illustrate the integrative power of ecological and evolutionary ideas and highlight the benefits of interdisciplinary thinking for understanding emerging viruses.

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