Horizon-scanning of research priorities on pathogen spill-over processes and their ecological correlates

As a group of ecologists, conservation biologists, taxonomists, virologists, epidemiologists, health care providers, veterinarians and social scientists, we recently established a COVID Task Force a CETAF-DiSSCo joint action (CETAF = Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities, https://cetaf.org/; DiSSCo = Distributed System of Scientific Collections, https://www.dissco.eu/), with the aim to help clarify the links between biodiversity, human pressure and the origin and causes of coronaviruses disease, as well as to identify the actions that should be put in place to complement the efforts made in other disciplines. This effort is equally important to anticipate and prevent the occurrence and propagation of zoonotic infectious diseases worldwide.

One of the first tangible actions we want to pursue is to identify priority questions that biodiversity scientists should explore to reach a better understanding of pathogen origins, spill-over processes and their ecological correlates.
The answers to these questions are needed to clarify the role that certain animal species play with respect to the pandemics such as the current one, and the environmental conditions that may facilitate these phenomena, from wildlife trade and consumption to habitat loss or degradation.
Sound knowledge is also especially important to avoid the spread of unmotivated culling of species such as bats, which provide key ecosystem services and are in need of strict protection worldwide and develop appropriate prevention and management measures.
We aim to come up with a list of questions that would form the basis to steer future research work.
Given your expertise in the field, we would be most grateful if you could supply a list of up to twenty questions that you see as priorities for research funding and conservation investment.
Many thanks in advance for your important contribution.

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