L SEPTEMBER 17
CLIMATE change could cause the extinction of a third of all parasites by the year 2070. It may not sound so bad, but parasites are actually important members of the Earth’s ecosystem.
Parasites don’t normally have good reputations, but a new study findings remind us that they are also important members of the ecosystem. As it turns out, parasites are actually some of the Earth’s most threatened life forms as a result of climate change.
The study published in the journal Science Advances was completed with the help of the US National Parasite Collection, as well as specialized databases of ticks, fleas, bee mites, and feather mites. What’s more, 17 researchers from eight countries spent years tracking down different parasite specimens in order to understand the species’ habitat and needs.
By using climate forecasts to determine how the 457 parasite species will react to the changing climate, researchers found they are evidently among the most threatened life forms on Earth with regards to climate change, even more so than their hosts. In fact, models show that about a third of parasites could go extinct by 2070 from the effects of habitat loss alone, with the more conservative models showing instead a 5 to 10 per cent loss.
Parasites don’t often good reputations as they are often responsible for diseases and infections. By definition, parasites are organisms that live and thrive at the expense of its host. But did you know that they are also important members of the ecosystem?