Parasite ecology bonanza

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have reached the point where I have accumulated so much awesome recent parasite ecology that I can’t devote an entire blog post to each paper. Therefore, today’s blog post is another parasite ecology bonanza:

A shadow network of patients are trying to treat their own debilitating diseases — by infecting themselves with gastrointestinal worms.” Which may make you wonder – does helminth therapy work?

There is a link between chicken flock behavior and Campylobacter infection status, where infected flocks move around less, and their movements are less uniform. It’s unclear whether  Campylobacter  alters chicken behavior of if sluggish flocks are more likely to become infected. However, observing flock behavior may be a better way to predict Campylobacter outbreaks than swabbing chickens.

There’s a big push to embrace the One Health paradigm in epidemiology/disease ecology. (Go look at my beautiful One Health Venn diagram and use it in your classes, if you haven’t yet!) However, to fully embrace the One Health concept, we may need more cross-talk and collaboration among three distinct networks of scientists: those who study domesticated animals, those who study wildlife, and those who study humans. The three groups are asking distinct questions and using distinct methods, and it looks like ecology folks don’t cite veterinary folks’ work and vice versa.

Here’s a cool study about parasite community assembly in buffalo. I like thinking about dominant versus subordinate parasite species…but I forgot to make a cartoon before this post came out.

Macroparasites are aggregately distributed among their hosts, and we expect host mortality rate to be dependent on parasite infection intensity. But we often can’t experimentally manipulate parasite loads, so how the heck do we figure out what parasite infection intensities lead to increased host mortality risk? Why, we use this BEAUTIFUL new statistical method, of course.

Thoughts on the disease triangle and chytridiomycosis – what are the relative contributions of the host, the pathogen, and the environment in determining chytrid outbreak severity?

Speaking of chytridiomycosis, the prevalence of infection in a frog population is lower when the mismatch between the host species’ and Bd’s thermal tolerances is greater. So I guess it’s hard to separate the host, the pathogen, and the environment . 😛

And finally, hosts may become “addicted” to their defensive symbionts! In particular, host populations with defensive symbionts rely on symbionts for protection from pathogens, and therefore the frequency of resistance alleles doesn’t increase in the host population when parasite pressures are high…and thus hosts rely even more on their symbionts…etc.

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