Disease ecology versus parasitology

Hey, what’s the difference between a disease ecologist and a parasitologist?

Disease ecologists have job opportunities!

KIDDING, KIDDING. But really, it turns out that there are more disease ecologists than parasitologists in US universities, if you exclude vet schools and the like. There also appear to be more job postings for US university positions that target disease ecologists than parasitologists.

So, we return to my original question, but seriously this time: what’s the difference between disease ecology and parasitology? We might say that parasitology tends to focus more on things like the biochemistry, histopathology, morphology, and systematics of parasites, as well as parasite life cycles. In contrast, disease ecology tends to focus more on population to ecosystem-level phenomena involved in host-parasite interactions. But obviously, there’s a lot of overlap between the two disciplines, if they are indeed separate disciplines, because parasitologists often think about classically “ecological” concepts and disease ecologists can’t study parasites without some parasitological knowledge. So I guess it’s more like gradient with parasitology at one end and disease ecology at the other?

Here is a my own handy flow chart for figuring out if you’re a disease ecologist versus a parasitologist. Anyone have a better dichotomous key?


5 thoughts on “Disease ecology versus parasitology

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