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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED BIOSYSTEMATICS AND TAXONOMY FOR PARASITES AMONG UNGULATES AND OTHER VERTEBRATES Title: Parasites in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems

Authors
item Hoberg, Eric
item Kutz, Susan -
item Cook, Joe -
item Galaktionov, Kirill -
item Haukisalmi, Voitto -
item Henttonen, Heikki -
item Laaksonen, Sauli -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2012
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Citation: Hoberg, E.P., Kutz, S., Cook, J., Galaktionov, K., Haukisalmi, V., Henttonen, H., Laaksonen, S. 2013. Parasites in Terrestrial, Freshwater and Marine Systems. In: Meltofte, H., editor. Arctic Biodiversity Assessment Status and Trends in Arctic Biodiversity. Akureyi, Iceland: Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna. pp. 476-505.

Interpretive Summary: Parasites are common and diverse members of all biological communities, but are not always considered in developing a broader understanding of biodiversity. We continue to explore the diversity of parasites and the impacts of parasitic diseases in an array of non-traditional food animals that are important for human well being. In the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) we focus on a series of exemplar systems in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments that demonstrate the potential and real impacts of parasites, and the possible consequences for ecosystems and people. Macroparasites (worms and arthropods) and microparasites (viruses, bacteria and protozoans) have at least one life stage that must live on or in another species, or host, which is usually free-living. Parasites can have subtle to severe effects on individual hosts or broader impacts on host populations which may cascade through ecosystems. Parasitic diseases have dual significance: (1) influencing sustainability for species and populations of diverse invertebrates, fishes, birds and mammals; and (2) secondarily affecting food security, quality and availability for people. Additionally, as zoonoses, some parasites of animals can infect and cause disease in people and are a primary issue for food safety and human health. Sustainability, security and safety of “country foods” are of concern at northern latitudes where people maintain a strong reliance on wildlife species. In the Arctic, we generally lack long-term and comprehensive baselines for parasite biodiversity in terrestrial, aquatic and marine systems, even for the best known host species. Absence of biodiversity knowledge has consequences for understanding faunal structure, the role of parasites in an ecosystem, and patterns of emerging animal and zoonotic diseases at local to regional scales. There is urgent need to incorporate parasites into policy and management plans and to emphasize that parasitic diseases be on the agenda for wildlife managers, fisheries biologists and local communities. Parasitological knowledge can be incorporated into policy and management plans through an integration of field-based survey and local knowledge, development of baselines linked to specimens (e.g., integrated biological collections held in museum repositories), archival data resources to assess change, and predictive spatial-epidemiological models. It is recommended that parasites be included in the broader equations for wildlife management, particularly issues about the sustainability of wildlife populations, and subsistence food webs including concerns for food security and food safety (zoonoses and human pathogens). Further, an evidence-based process is necessary to demonstrate a clear link between climate change, environmental perturbation and emergence of parasites and disease which are the foundations for robust projections about dynamic shifts in ecosystem structure in ecological time. Inclusion of parasites in the ABA provides recognition of these obscure but important organisms and their ecological role in complex biological systems.

Technical Abstract: Parasites are ubiquitous and diverse members of all biological communities. Macroparasites (worms and arthropods) and microparasites (viruses, bacteria and protozoans) have at least one life stage that must live on or in another species, or host, which is usually free-living. Parasites can have subtle to severe effects on individual hosts or broader impacts on host populations which may cascade through ecosystems. Parasitic diseases have dual significance: (1) influencing sustainability for species and populations of diverse invertebrates, fishes, birds and mammals; and (2) secondarily affecting food security, quality and availability for people. Additionally, as zoonoses, some parasites of animals can infect and cause disease in people and are a primary issue for food safety and human health. Sustainability, security and safety of “country foods” are of concern at northern latitudes where people maintain a strong reliance on wildlife species. In the Arctic, we generally lack long-term and comprehensive baselines for parasite biodiversity in terrestrial, aquatic and marine systems, even for the best known host species. Absence of biodiversity knowledge has consequences for understanding faunal structure, the role of parasites in an ecosystem, and patterns of emerging animal and zoonotic diseases at local to regional scales. There is urgent need to incorporate parasites into policy and management plans and to emphasize that parasitic diseases be on the agenda for wildlife managers, fisheries biologists and local communities. Parasitological knowledge can be incorporated into policy and management plans through an integration of field-based survey and local knowledge, development of baselines linked to specimens, archival data resources to assess change, and predictive spatial-epidemiological models. It is recommended that parasites be included in the broader equations for wildlife management, particularly issues about the sustainability of wildlife populations, and subsistence food webs including concerns for food security and food safety (zoonoses and human pathogens). Further, an evidence-based process is necessary to demonstrate a clear link between climate change, environmental perturbation and emergence of parasites and disease which are the foundations for robust projections about dynamic shifts in ecosystem structure in ecological time.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014