Changes in biodiversity associated with ecosystem degradation are increasingly recognized as an important driver for the emergence and spread of infectious diseases in wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. Anthropogenic activities often lead to land use and land cover changes from natural, biodiverse habitats to homogenized and biotically depleted landscapes. These landscapes are characterized by impoverished wild species communities that demonstrate resilience to anthropogenic pressures and tend to favour generalist, synanthropic and commensal hosts and vectors of zoonotic diseases.


The ZOE consortium aims at advancing the understanding of the effects of ecosystem degradation in  the form of deforestation and associated biodiversity loss on the risk of emergence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, and at better defining the protective value of forest ecosystem restoration. It fully embraces a holistic, integrated, inter- and transdisciplinary One Health approach to the links between human, animal, and environmental health.


ZOE works towards shifting the pandemic preparedness and response paradigm towards pandemic prevention by illuminating some of the root causes of disease emergence arising from human-mediated ecological disruption.

Who We Are


The 4-year ZOE project will analyze the links between landcover and land use changes in tropical biodiversity hot-spots facing loss of primary forest and biodiversity and in temperate regions that have undergone ecosystem degradation and deforestation over historical timescales.


Our case study sites are distributed across a forested gradient in Slovenia and Slovakia in Europe and in Costa Rica and Guatemala in Mesoamerica.


In areas experiencing different levels of ecosystem degradation, biodiversity assessments are based on remote sensing-based GIS analysis of landscape structures, geobotanic plant mapping, and targeted trapping of rodents, ticks, and mosquitoes, as prototypic reservoirs and vectors of zoonotic diseases (macro-organism scale).


Host- and soil-associated microbiome and virome high-throughput sequencing are combined with assessment of human exposure to prototypic zoonotic pathogens, using high-throughput serological analyses (microbiological scale). ZOE actively links with local communities and stakeholders to address perceived land use and land cover changes, disease occurrence, coping strategies, and risk behaviour.

Findings and Output

Results are synthesized in modelling and risk mapping frameworks linking biodiversity loss and zoonotic disease risks and tested in forecasting scenarios to feed into cost-efficient monitoring schemes and early warning systems.

An online knowledge platform has been created to link all relevant stakeholders of the biodiversity-health nexus, including other EU-funded consortia, national and supranational organizations stakeholders, local communities, and the public. 


Zoe (#101135094) is funded by the European Union 

ZOE Consortium

The ZOE project is run by an interdisciplinary consortium with expertise in geography, geobotanics, ecology, virology, immunology, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, anthropology and science dissemination from seven EU and four American countries. 


News & Blog

On these pages, we inform about plans, events and findings, as well as insight and feedbacks.