With any luck, you finished all of your grading and/or assignments on time, and now you’re enjoying a well earned break from the semester. If you’re like me, you’re eager to use this time to catch up on reading. Here are some papers that recently tickled my fancy that you might want to stick under your Christmas tree.
Fenton et al. (2015) proposed a neat new framework for figuring out which host species drive transmission in multi-host parasite communities without actually quantifying interspecific transmission among all host species.
Sometimes helminths can facilitate microparasite infections by dampening host immune responses. But nematodes can also increase the intensity of malaria infections (Griffiths et al. 2015).
I often wonder whether trematode metacercariae have any negative effects on their hosts. Green crabs inflected by Microphallus metacercariae are less efficient at handling prey, and soon after being infected, they are slower to right themselves after you flip them over (Blakeslee et al. 2015). That’s a tricky one to explain at your family holiday gatherings: “I spend a lot of time flipping crabs over and timing how long it takes them to right themselves again – for science.”
Even when parasites don’t directly affect their hosts’ fitness, they can have large, indirect effects on other individuals in the population, like the parents and offspring of infected individuals (Granroth-Wilding 2015).
Diverse communities of predators that eat parasites – but not predators that eat parasites and hosts – can reduce host infection rates (Rohr et al. 2015).