Parasites in Ecological Communities: From Interactions to Ecosystems

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Chicago: University of Chicago Press, : Sukhdeo, M.

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Food web patterns and the parasite's perspective. In Parasitism and Ecosystems. Thomas, F, Renaud, F. New York: Oxford University Press, : Thomas, F. Parasitism, biodiversity and conservation. Tompkins, D. Ecological replacement of native red squirrels by invasive greys driven by disease. Predation, Herbivory, and Parasitism. Characterizing Communities. Species with a Large Impact on Community Structure. Successional Changes in Communities. Effects of Biogeography on Community Diversity.

Community Ecology Introduction. Avian Egg Coloration and Visual Ecology. Causes and Consequences of Biodiversity Declines. Disease Ecology. The Ecology of Avian Brood Parasitism. Elemental Defenses of Plants by Metals. The Maintenance of Species Diversity. Neutral Theory of Species Diversity. Abiotically-Mediated Direct and Indirect Effects. Biological Stoichiometry. Sampling Biological Communities. Succession: A Closer Look. Dynamics of Predation. Ecological Consequences of Parasitism. Resource Partitioning and Why It Matters.

Direct and Indirect Interactions. Keystone Species. Why are parasites ecologically important? Parasites can shape community structure through their effects on trophic interactions, food webs, competition, biodiversity, and keystone species. Aa Aa Aa. Parasitism and Trophic Interactions. A Oligochaete worms Chaetogaster sp. Parasitism, Food Webs, and Ecosystem Energetics. Considering the prominent roles played by parasites in trophic interactions, we might expect parasites to strongly influence food web characteristics. Recent efforts to include parasites in food webs have revealed sharp changes in the topology of food webs, including species richness, the total number of links, food chain length the number of trophic levels in a web , and connectance Lafferty et al.

For decades, parasites were omitted from the study of food web ecology based on the assumption that they contributed negligible biomass to ecosystems. Measuring biomass, or productivity, allows us to quantify contributions of organisms to ecosystem energetics. However, when parasite biomass was actually measured on an ecosystem scale, the results challenged the notion that parasites are unimportant in ecosystem energy flow.

In some estuarine systems, the biomass of parasites is comparable to that of top predators Kuris et al. Yearly productivity of trematode parasites, for example, was higher than the biomass of birds.


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Similarly, the estimated biomass of plant fungal pathogens was comparable to that of herbivores in experimental grassland plots in Minnesota Figure 3; Mitchell In fact, top-down control by fungal pathogens was more important than herbivory in predicting grass biomass. These studies suggest that parasites can contribute significantly to ecosystem energetics and exert strong control over the biomass of primary producers.

While much remains to be learned about the roles of parasites in food webs, the classical approach of omitting parasites from considerations of food web ecology could lead to serious errors in our understanding. A A fungal pathogen Uromyces lespedezae-procumbenti on the leaves of a prairie legume. B A Minnesota grassland ecosystem. In some grasslands, fungal pathogens can control productivity and biomass more strongly than herbivorous insects, suggesting that parasites play important roles in ecosystem energetics.

Parasitism, Competition, and Biodiversity. Parasitism, Keystone Species, and Ecosystem Structure. The effects of parasitism on ecological communities can be particularly pronounced when the hosts are keystone or dominant species with important functions in an ecosystem.

For example, Diadema urchins in the Caribbean experienced a massive die-off associated with microbial pathogens, eliminating the keystone roles of urchins as grazers and bioeroders on coral reefs Lessios Reefs in affected regions became overgrown with algae that displaced mature corals and prevented new coral settlement. Another example involves the introduction and subsequent removal of a viral disease called rinderpest in African ungulates. The release of herbivores from parasite control had dramatic cascading effects on the ecosystem: populations of top carnivores, including lions and hyenas increased, and the productivity of grasses decreased Sinclair ; Thomas et al.

These examples of parasite introductions and removals provide a rare glimpse into how ecosystem structure can be dramatically altered when parasites regulate populations of functionally important host species. Concluding Remarks. The prominent roles of parasites in food webs, competitive interactions, biodiversity patterns, and the regulation of keystone species, make it clear that parasites contribute to structuring ecological communities. Yet we have only begun to dissect the complex roles played by parasites in community ecology.

Patterns of increased disease emergence in wildlife, with potential implications for human health and wellbeing, make it an especially relevant time to further integrate parasitism into community ecology and improve our understanding of the roles of parasites in nature. Elton, C. Animal Ecology. London, UK: Sidgwick and Jackson, Article History Close. Keywords Keywords for this Article. Flag Inappropriate The Content is: Objectionable. Email your Friend. This content is currently under construction.

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Parasites in Ecological Communities: From Interactions to Ecosystems

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Actions Tools Choose a colour. This book bridges the gap between community ecology and epidemiology to create a wide-ranging examination of how parasites and pathogens affect all aspects of ecological communities. It includes 9 chapters. Chapter 1 Introduction provides an overview of epidemiology, community ecology and Parasites in ecological communities: from interactions to ecosystems. Chapter 1 Introduction provides an overview of epidemiology, community ecology and parasites micro- and macroparasites.

The next 3 chapters examine the interaction between parasitism parasitism Subject Category: Miscellaneous see more details and intraspecific competition intraspecific competition Subject Category: Miscellaneous see more details Chapter 2 , predation predation Subject Category: Miscellaneous see more details Chapter 3 and intraguild predation Chapter 4.

Ecological Relationships

Chapter 5 discusses the community impacts of parasites and pathogens of plants plants Subject Category: Organism Names see more details. The next 2 chapters describe how parasites influence biological invasions invasions Subject Category: Miscellaneous see more details Chapter 6 and general ecosystem processes and properties Chapter 7. Chapter 8 investigates emerging infectious diseases emerging infectious diseases Subject Category: Diseases, Disorders, and Symptoms see more details in humans and wildlife wildlife Subject Category: Organism Groups see more details from a community ecology perspective.

Lastly, Chapter 9 discusses some of the more current areas of research in this field. This book is of relevance to academics, practitioners and graduates in biodiversity, conservation and population management, and animal and human health. Back to top. Edit annotation. Cancel Edit annotation. Add annotation. Cancel Add annotation. Print citation. Cancel Print. Email citation. Please enter a valid email address. Cancel Send. Export citation list. Records to Export: Export upto 10, records per session in batches of max.

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