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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Diversity and history as drivers of helminth systematics and biology

item Zarlenga, Dante
item Hoberg, Eric
item Detwiler, J

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2014
Publication Date: 10/15/2014
Citation: Zarlenga, D.S., Hoberg, E.P., Detwiler, J.T. 2014. Diversity and history as drivers of helminth systematics and biology. In: Bruschi, F., editor. Helminth Infections and Their Impact on Global Public Health. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag GmbH. pp. 1-28.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Systematics is the foundation for biology. It provides a basic evolutionary map to discover, characterize and interpret global diversity and our place in the biosphere. It also allows us to explore questions related to host associations, life history, genetics, and patterns of infection and disease, the cornerstones of epidemiology. Systematics reflects the intersection of phylogeny (evolutionary or genealogical relationships of organisms) and taxonomy (a standard nomenclature, the process of species delimitation, and the theory and practice of classification). Significantly, it brings history on the table and links evolution, ecology and biogeography. Herein we endeavor to examine why “history matters.” A deeper understanding of the historical arena on global to landscape scales contributes to our knowledge of complex host-parasite assemblages. Geographic patterns, host associations, and historical determinants (abiotic and biotic) are foundations for examining the outcomes of perturbation and allow us to predict and anticipate future changes in the distribution of parasites through niche modeling, and by extension, their potential impact on human and animal health. We highlight how past and current evidence provides a window to explore a future of dynamic change caused by accelerated climate warming, habitat perturbation, erosion of biodiversity, the dissemination of invasive species, changes in host adaptation, and the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases. Highlighted are recent advancements in molecular identification and population genetics to underscore the value of well-engineered population research to advancing sound taxonomy. Finally, we consider how studies on genomics and phylogenomics have begun to better inform us on the broader “Tree of Life”. In so doing, we hope to help advance and guide future progress in understanding parasitology and its relationship to global public health.

Last Modified: 09/19/2017
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