L SEPTEM­BER 17

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

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?

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