Back to David's theory of evolution: parasites and the bush (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Sunday, August 02, 2020, 21:58 (359 days ago) @ David Turell

Parasites are a necessary part of the bush of life:

"Unlike the many charismatic mammals, fishes and birds that receive our attention (and our conservation dollars), parasites are thought of as something to eradicate—and certainly not something to protect.

"But only 4% of known parasites can infect humans, and the majority actually serve critical ecological roles, like regulating wildlife that might otherwise balloon in population size and become pests. Still, only about 10% of parasites have been identified and, as a result, they are mostly left out of conservation activities and research.


"'Parasites are an incredibly diverse group of species, but as a society, we do not recognize this biological diversity as valuable," said Wood, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. "The point of this paper is to emphasize that we are losing parasites and the functions they serve without even recognizing it."


"'Even though we know little to nothing about most parasite species, we can still take action now to conserve parasite biodiversity," said Skylar Hopkins, paper and project co-lead and an assistant professor at North Carolina State University.


"Parasites often need two or more host species to complete their lifecycle. For example, some parasites first infect fish or amphibians, but ultimately must get transmitted to birds to reproduce and multiply. They ensure that this happens through ingenious ways, Wood explained, often by manipulating the behavior or even the anatomy of their first host to make these fish or amphibians more susceptible to being eaten by birds. In this way, the parasite then gets transmitted to a bird—its ultimate destination.


"After a couple of years, the researchers analyzed parasite biodiversity in each of the 16 ponds. What they found was a mixed bag: Some parasite species responded to elevated bird biodiversity by declining in abundance. But other parasites actually increased in number when bird biodiversity increased. The authors concluded that as biodiversity changes—due to climate change, development pressure or other reasons—we can expect to see divergent responses by parasites, even those living within the same ecosystem."

Comment: same old story. All parts of the bush count as very important and required at all phases of evolution. dhw should take notice.

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