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Landscape epidemiology describes how the temporal dynamics of host, vector, and pathogen populations interact spatially within a permissive environment to enable transmission. The spatially defined focus, or nidus, of transmission may be characterized by vegetation as well as by climate, latitude, elevation, and geology. The ecological complexity, dimensions, and temporal stability of the nidus are determined largely by pathogen natural history and vector bionomics. Host populations, transmission efficiency, and therefore pathogen amplification vary spatially, thereby creating a heterogeneous surface that may be defined by remote sensing and statistical tools. The current review describes the evolution of landscape epidemiology as a science and exemplifies selected aspects by contrasting the ecology of two different recent
disease outbreaks in North America caused by West Nile virus, an explosive, highly virulent mosquito-borne virus producing ephemeral nidi, and Borrelia burgdorferi, a slowly amplifying chronic pathogen producing semipermanent nidi.