The ecology of COVID-19 and related environmental and sustainability issues

Ambio. 2022 Apr;51(4):1014-1021. doi: 10.1007/s13280-021-01603-0. Epub 2021 Jul 19.


Around the globe, human behavior and ecosystem health have been extensively and sometimes severely affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Most efforts to study these complex and heterogenous effects to date have focused on public health and economics. Some studies have evaluated the pandemic's influences on the environment, but often on a single aspect such as air or water pollution. The related research opportunities are relatively rare, and the approaches are unique in multiple aspects and mostly retrospective. Here, we focus on the diverse research opportunities in disease ecology and ecosystem sustainability related to the (intermittent) lockdowns that drastically reduced human activities. We discuss several key knowledge gaps and questions to address amid the ongoing pandemic. In principle, the common knowledge accumulated from invasion biology could also be effectively applied to COVID-19, and the findings could offer much-needed information for future pandemic prevention and management.

Keywords: Assessment; Disease ecology; Environment; Epidemics; Knowledge gaps; Retrospective approach.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2