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
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?
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!
(scottamy at kuhub.cc.ukans.edu)