Is a healthy ecosystem one that is rich in parasites?

Trends in Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 

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Abstract

Historically, the role of parasites in ecosystem functioning has been considered trivial because a cursory examination reveals that their relative biomass is low compared with that of other trophic groups. However there is increasing evidence that parasite-mediated effects could be significant: they shape host population dynamics, alter interspecific competition, influence energy flow and appear to be important drivers of biodiversity. Indeed they influence a range of ecosystem functions and have a major effect on the structure of some food webs. Here, we consider the bottom-up and top-down processes of how parasitism influences ecosystem functioning and show that there is evidence that parasites are important for biodiversity and production; thus, we consider a healthy system to be one that is rich in parasite species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Is a healthy ecosystem one that is rich in parasites?
Series title Trends in Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1016/j.tree.2006.04.007
Volume 21
Issue 7
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Cell Press
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 5 p.
First page 381
Last page 385