Social distancing to combat COVID-19 is profoundly impacting society, leaving many people wondering whether it will actually work. As disease ecologists, we know that nature has an answer.
Animals as diverse as monkeys, lobsters, insects and birds can detect and avoid sick members of their species. Why have so many types of animals evolved such sophisticated behaviors in response to disease? Because social distancing helps them survive.
In evolutionary terms, animals that effectively socially distance during an outbreak improve their chances of staying healthy and going on to produce more offspring, which also will socially distance when confronted with disease. MORE
Header image: Mandrills live in large groups in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. They will often groom other group members, but actively avoid sick mandrills unless they are close family members. Credit: Eric Kilby/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA.