Parasites and food webs


Parasitic copepod on the gill of a whiting (photo: Hans Hillewaert)

A recent paper “Parasites Affect Food Web Structure Primarily through Increased Diversity and Complexity” in PLoS Biology by Jennifer Dunne and others (including Robert Poulin from Otago) examines the effect of including parasites in food webs. The primary impact appears “attributable to the generic effects of increases in diversity and complexity, regardless of the identity or type of species and links being added.” However, parasites do impact network motifs because of, for example, the ingestion of parasites by predators of their hosts.

Fascinating work!


The Otago Harbour intertidal mudflat food web, with parasites shown in red

See also Assembling my network, Roopnarine’s foodweblog and the Parasite ecology blog.

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2 thoughts on “Parasites and food webs

  1. Pingback: Blogroll: Assembling my Network | Scientific Gems

  2. Pingback: Best Scientific Visualizations of 2013 | Scientific Gems

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