How a disease is transmitted affects our ability to determine R₀, the average number of new cases caused by an infectious host at the onset of an epidemic. R₀ becomes progressively more difficult to compute as transmission varies from directly transmitted diseases to diseases that are vector-borne to environmentally transmitted diseases. Pathogens responsible for diseases with environmental transmission are typically maintained in environmental reservoirs that exhibit a complex spatial distribution of local infectious zones (LIZs). Understanding host encounters with LIZs and pathogen persistence within LIZs is required for an accurate R₀ and modeling these contacts requires an integrated geospatial and dynamical systems approach. Here we review how interactions between host and pathogen populations and environmental reservoirs are driven by landscape-level variables, and synthesize the quantitative framework needed to formulate outbreak response and disease control.