Parasites in marine food webs

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Parasites have important and unique impacts on marine food webs. By infecting taxa across all trophic levels, parasites affect both bottom-up and top-down processes in marine systems. When host densities are high enough, parasites can regulate or even decimate their populations, causing regime shifts in marine systems. As consumers and resources, parasites are enmeshed in food webs in ways that are different from free-living species. Their unique lifestyle renders parasites more susceptible to perturbations than their free-living hosts. As a result, parasites serve as useful indicators of ecosystem integrity. A theory for how food webs affect parasites will help us better understand why a particular infectious disease has become problematic, give insight into how restoration might reduce a costly marine disease, or let us use parasites as indicators to follow changes in food-web complexity.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Parasites in marine food webs
Chapter 2
DOI 10.1093/oso/9780198821632.003.0002
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Oxford University Press
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 16 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Marine disease ecology
First page 45
Last page 60
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