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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Arctic Biodiversity: from Discovery to Faunal Baselines-Revealing the History of a Dynamic Ecosystem

item Hoberg, Eric
item Kutz, Susan - UNIV. SASKATCHEWAN
item Cook, Joseph - IDAHO STATE UNIV.
item Galbreath, Kurt - UNIV. ALASKA

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 22, 2002
Publication Date: April 20, 2003

Interpretive Summary: Biodiversity knowledge in Arctic and northern systems serves both theory-rich and real-world issues. Current research programs serve as models for hypothesis driven research, such as that under the Beringian Coevolution Project, to reveal evolutionary, biogeographic, and ecological structure and the history of biotas. It is apparent that these systems can serve as important historical analogues for understanding contemporary global change. Additionally, we can apply parasite biodiversity data in the context of real world issues such as those considered under the Research Group for Arctic Parasitology including animal health, emerging pathogens and impacts to keystone species such as caribou and the potential impacts of global change driven by both climatological or anthropogenic forces. The cross cuts between basic knowledge and the application of biodiversity information indicate the degree to which the BCP and RGAP are complementary programs with a strong interface. As such they serve as model systems for programs in biodiversity assessment. Taxonomy and systematics integrating comparative morphology, molecular systematics and phylogeographic approaches is requisite. We need robust theoretical frameworks for studies of cospeciation, historical biogeography and historical ecology. Contemporary survey and inventory continues to serve as the basis for demonstrating distribution, and host association and how these are linked through relationships to landscape ecology, pathogen distribution and disease. Ecosystem approaches that shift the focus from single host species to a broader context are clearly necessary to identify the role of parasites and pathogens at the community level. Synoptic baselines to monitor change or stability in terrestrial systems Arctic are an important contribution from these studies. The BCP and RGAP are works in progress and serve to show our continued need for the most basic of information about the distribution and host associations of parasites and pathogens.

Technical Abstract: Knowledge of parasite biodiversity contributes to new and exciting approaches to understand the structure, history and future of the Arctic fauna. As a discovery- based process the Beringian Coevolution Project and activities under the umbrella of the Research Group for Arctic Parasitology serve as complementary models for investigations of the nature of parasite biodiversity. Multifaceted studies reveal the complex tapestry for relationships among mammalian hosts and their helminth parasites against an historical background of episodic climate change that has characterized the past 3 MY. Historically we focus on elucidation of isolating mechanisms, the mode, tempo and processes for speciation, and a search for commonality in biogeographic patterns for phylogenetically disparate host and parasite assemblages in a community driven by cyclical environmental change and ecological perturbation. In a contemporary setting we combine survey, inventory, and monitoring to formulate baselines. These enable us to examine long-term trends, and to identify ecological determinants of distribution, changes in parasite epizootiology, and alterations in altitudinal, latitudinal and seasonal associations of hosts and parasites that may result from anthropogenic or climatological global change. The Holarctic region has increasingly become a focus for environmental studies and biodiversity assessment. Comparative baselines and archives for biodiversity are essential for recognizing the biotic responses of host-parasite systems and the potential for emergence of disease across rapidly changing northern ecosystems. A broad-based integrated view of parasite faunal diversity requires (1.) synoptic coordinated collections at the local, regional and ecosystem level, (2.) standards for survey and monitoring, (3.) systematics emphasizing the nexus of comparative morphology and molecular methods, and (4.) integrated coevolutionary and phylogeographic approaches to understanding the history for populations and species of hosts and parasites. Knowledge of biodiversity is vital as it allows us to understand a poorly documented facet of biocomplexity in the Arctic and the role of parasitism and disease in natural systems.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015
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