Infectious diseases dynamics are affected by both spatial and temporal heterogeneity in their environments. Our ability to quantify and predict how this heterogeneity impacts risks of infection and disease emergence is the key to successful disease prevention efforts. Here, we review the literature on infectious diseases from human, agricultural, and wildlife ecosystems to describe the rapid ecological and evolutionary responses in pathogens to environmental heterogeneity, with expected impacts on their epidemiology. To date, the underlying network structures through which disease transmission proceeds have been notoriously difficult to quantify because of this variation. We show that with recent advances in statistical methods and genomic approaches, it is now more feasible than ever to trace disease transmission networks, the molecular underpinning of infection, and the environmental variation relevant to disease dynamics. We end by identifying major new opportunities and challenges in understanding disease dynamics in an ever-changing world.


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