It’s an uncanny time to be an evolutionary biologist. Because I’m versed in the literature and the lexicon, I can mostly follow the epidemiological science in the news and separate fact from fiction. That’s a huge help with the incessant and ever-shifting barrage of confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just plain unscientific information surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
But at the same time, I study interactions like those between predator and prey, parasite and host, viral pathogen and susceptible population for a living. I’ve committed those classic papers and figures to memory. And because I am painfully familiar with how the dynamics of what our species is currently facing could play out, I will speak candidly. I am worried. I am scared. My colleagues and mentors and friends in the field are as well. Decades of research tell us that the measures we all take now – strict social distancing, rigorous hygiene and cleaning, a complete restructuring of our institutions, sacrificing the day-to-day customs of our lives – are critical if we hope to flatten the curve of this pandemic.
I have never felt more viscerally a part of nature than I do right now, as our species faces a biological enemy that poses such an immediate existential threat.Continue reading “Introducing Daily Nature Diary: a challenge to enjoy being an animal”