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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Triage for the Biosphere:the Need and Rationale for Taxonomic Inventories and Phylogenetic Studies of Parasites

Authors
item Brooks, Daniel - UNIV. TORONTO, CANADA
item Hoberg, Eric

Submitted to: Society of Washington Journal of Helminthological
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 17, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Parasitological data are currently under-utilized in studies of biodiversity. A parasitological perspective in biodiversity survey and inventory provides powerful insights into history, structure and maintenance of the biosphere. Parasitology contributes a conceptual landscape linking the biological sciences. Survey and inventory provides information for understanding ecology, systematics, evolution, biogeography, behavior and an array of biological phenomena. Taxonomists, those who name and classify organisms, hold the key to the development of effective surveys and inventories and eventual linkage to significant environmental and socio-economic issues including environmental disruption and emergence of pathogens and disease. Additionally, predictive databases integrating ecological and phylogenetic knowledge from the study of parasites are synergistic, adding substantially greater ecological, historical and biogeographic context for the study of the biosphere than that derived from data on free-living organisms alone. We argue that parasitology should be an integral component of any programs for biodiversity assessment on local, regional, or global scales and call for a re-vitalization of the discipline to respond to future needs and challenges.

Technical Abstract: A parasitological perspective in biodiversity survey and inventory provides powerful insights into history, structure and maintenance of the biosphere. Parasitology contributes a powerful conceptual paradigm or landscape linking ecology, systematics, evolution, biogeography, behavior and an array of biological phenomena from the molecular to the organismal level across the continuum of micro- to macroparasites and their vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. Effective survey and inventory can be strategically focused, or can take a synoptic approach such that represented by the "All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory." Taxonomists who constitute the global taxasphere hold the key to the development of effective surveys and inventories and eventual linkage to significant environmental and socio-economic issues. Additionally, predictive databases integrating ecological and phylogenetic knowledge from the study of parasites are synergistic, adding substantially greater ecological, historical and biogeographic context for the study of the biosphere than that derived from data on free-living organisms alone. We argue that parasitology should be an integral component of any programs for biodiversity assessment on local, regional, or global scales.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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