biodiversity and parasites

scottamy at kuhub.cc.ukans.edu scottamy at kuhub.cc.ukans.edu
Tue Mar 15 00:59:19 EST 1994


	Like most biologists, I have become increasingly alarmed at the 
world's loss of species diversity.  As parasitologists, we should probably 
be even more disturbed than those that study free-living organisms.  As 
species of hosts become extinct, so also perish their parasites.  In 
addition, even if many species of hosts are "rescued" by any of the 
currently proposed methods, such as setting up small protected areas of 
isolated habitat, will change parasite population and community 
dynamics so drastically that many additional species of parasites will 
become extinct.
	In a recent discussion of species diversity of non-parasites by 
Briggs (Syst. Biol. 43:130-135) it was suggested that "...expert opinions 
[are] probably the better approach to the determination of global 
diversity." (pg 134).  With that prompting I thought I would bring up 
several questions suggested by Briggs' paper on species diversity for 
discussion to this group of "experts."
	1.  To parallel Briggs' original question...How does species 
diversity of parasites of marine animals compare with parasites of 
terrestrial animals?  (--this is compounded by those parasites that have 
life cycle stages in both aquatic and terrestrial hosts.)
	2.  What are the best methods of sampling diversity of parasites 
in hosts that are also in danger of extinction?  In fragile areas where the 
removal of large numbers is not practical how do you get a true picture 
of distribution patterns?
		and finally,
	3.  How do we entice (?) non-parasitologists to include surveys of 
parasites when they sample biodiversity?    

	I hope these questions will stimulate some discussion as well as 
help me solve them to my own satisfaction!

			Scott Monks
				(scottamy at kuhub.cc.ukans.edu)	   





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