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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Faunal Diversity among Avian Parasite Assemblages: the Interaction of History, Ecology and Biogeography in Marine Systems

item Hoberg, Eric

Submitted to: Bulletin of the Scandinavian Society of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 6, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Parasitic helminths of aquatic birds are poorly known. Many of these species complete life cycles using commercially important invertebrates and fishes as intermediate hosts. These may constitute threats to commercial interests in aquaculture and mariculture. Additionally, in some cases parasites present in fishes or crustaceans could pose health risks for human consumption. It is important for this reason to understand the ecological, phylogenetic and historical influences on the distribution of parasites of marine birds. Documentation of species diversity of helminths, including digeneans, tapeworms and nematodes, and elucidation of host-parasite interactions promotes recognition of those parasite species and avian hosts which may be of significance in aquaculture. Understanding biodiversity of parasite faunas in marine ecosystems also promotes a broader application of helminths as ecological probes for examining impacts to our biological resources. Finally, the conceptual issues involving biodiversity are broadly applicable across agricultural systems in general.

Technical Abstract: Systematics and parasite biodiversity provide power and predictability in broad studies of history, ecology and biogeography in marine systems. Knowledge of the evolution of parasite-host assemblages provides direct estimates of the history of ecological associations and community development and is indicative of the temporal continuity of trophic assemblages. Parasites constitute probes that can be applied directly to questions of contemporary diversity and the historical development of community structure. Concurrently, a predictive framework, with parasites as indicators, exists for elucidating the impacts of natural or anthropogenic perturbations to faunas and ecosystems. These concepts and phenomena are examined across a range of temporal and geographic scales extending from the North Pacific basin to the Southern Ocean. In this arena, parasitology offers the potential to achieve unique insights about ecological interactions and community structure over evolutionarily significant time frames.

Last Modified: 5/5/2015