Parasites in marine food webs

Bulletin of Marine Science



Most species interactions probably involve parasites. This review considers the extent to which marine ecologists should consider parasites to fully understand marine communities. Parasites are influential parts of food webs in estuaries, temperate reefs, and coral reefs, but their ecological importance is seldom recognized. Though difficult to observe, parasites can have substantial biomass, and they can be just as common as free-living consumers after controlling for body mass and trophic level. Parasites have direct impacts on the energetics of their hosts and some affect host behaviors, with ecosystem-level consequences. Although they cause disease, parasites are sensitive components of ecosystems. In particular, they suffer secondary extinctions due to biodiversity loss. Some parasites can also return to a system after habitat restoration. For these reasons, parasites can make good indicators of ecosystem integrity. Fishing can indirectly increase or decrease parasite populations and the effects of climate change on parasites are likely to be equally as complex.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Parasites in marine food webs
Series title Bulletin of Marine Science
DOI 10.5343/bms.2011.1124
Volume 89
Issue 1
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher University of Miami
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 12 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Bulletin of Marine Science
First page 123
Last page 134
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