Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) have been salient companions of humanity throughout its evolution. Whether it is a spirochetal infection lingering in joints of a Chalcolithic man, a plague besieging and decimating Medieval towns, or any other kind of pestilence inflicting damage to crops and livestock across the Ecumene, VBDs have played a significant role. Despite the steady progression of scientific knowledge regarding the causes and mechanisms underlying the emergence of VBDs in human populations and agriculture, our understanding of the intricate arthropod–pathogen–host interactions remains vague. This understanding spans multiple levels, ranging from biological molecules to organisms, populations, and ultimately ecosystems.
Most current biomedical research concerning the emergence of VBDs focuses on macro-environmental factors such as global climate change and biodiversity loss. While modeling efforts employing temperature and precipitation as simple predictors within the ecological niche framework indicate the potential to efficiently capture and forecast large-scale regional climate-disease interactions, predicting fine-scale risks - which are crucial for saving lives and livelihoods - using similar approaches proves to be considerably more challenging. Consequently, a notion of "local" gains significance, as other ecological, demographic, and socio-economical aspects of these complex relationships largely remain unexplored.
As humans, we adeptly transport various agents of infectious diseases and their vectors around the planet, leading to their nearly global distribution. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the portmanteau word 'glocal' as an adjective meaning “reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations”. We contend that this term aptly describes the ecology of many VBD pathogens and their vectors. While examples abound in the literature, the finer details underlying these processes often remain ambiguous. The complexity of this issue necessitates interdisciplinary and longitudinal approaches. Thus, this Research Topic invites submissions aimed at bridging crucial knowledge gaps in disease ecology and the spatio-temporal dynamics of novel and re-emerging VBDs, including zoonoses, diseases affecting animals or plants, or studies that combine multiple lines of evidence.
Sub-themes of particular relevance to this research topic include:
• The expansion of vectors' geographical distribution and their adaptation to new anthropogenic/urban ecological conditions
• Vector competence and in vivo evolution of pathogens
• Host/vector shifts in VBDs
• Field-based evidence of local adaptations in VBDs systems
• Studies on the ecology of diseases that are broadly distributed but are typically considered to be of "focal importance," such as soft-tick relapsing fevers, Buruli ulcer, tungiasis, etc.