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Keywords:

  • applied evolution;
  • conservation;
  • epidemiology;
  • host–pathogen interactions;
  • wildlife management;
  • zoonosis

Abstract

Wildlife disease has the potential to cause significant ecological, socioeconomic, and health impacts. As a result, all tools available need to be employed when host–pathogen dynamics merit conservation or management interventions. Evolutionary principles, such as evolutionary history, phenotypic and genetic variation, and selection, have the potential to unravel many of the complex ecological realities of infectious disease in the wild. Despite this, their application to wildlife disease ecology and management remains in its infancy. In this article, we outline the impetus behind applying evolutionary principles to disease ecology and management issues in the wild. We then introduce articles from this special issue on Evolutionary Perspectives on Wildlife Disease: Concepts and Applications, outlining how each is exemplar of a practical wildlife disease challenge that can be enlightened by applied evolution. Ultimately, we aim to bring new insights to wildlife disease ecology and its management using tools and techniques commonly employed in evolutionary ecology.