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The role of trematode parasites in larval anuran communities: an aquatic ecologist's guide to the major players.

Authors
  • 1
  • 1 Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Ave., St Catharines, Ontario, Canada. [email protected] , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Oecologia
1432-1939
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Volume
161
Issue
2
Pages
371–385
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-009-1388-8
PMID: 19543919
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Conservation strategies depend on our understanding of the ecosystem and community dynamics. To date, such understanding has focused mostly on predator-prey and competitor interactions. It is increasingly clear, however, that parasite-host interactions may represent a large, and important, component of natural communities. The need to consider multiple factors and their synergistic interactions if we are to elucidate the contribution of anthropogenic factors to loss in biodiversity is exemplified by research into present-day amphibian declines. Only recently has the role of factors such as trematode parasite infections been incorporated into studies of the population and community dynamics of aquatic systems. We argue that this is due, at least in part, to difficulties faced by aquatic ecologists in sifting through the complex systematics that pervade the parasite literature. We note that two trematode species are of dominant importance with regard to North American larval anuran communities, and provide in this review a clear explanation of how to distinguish between the infective stages of these two parasites. We describe the general biology and life history of these parasites, as well as what is known about their effect on larval anurans, and the interactive effects of environmental stressors (typically anthropogenic in nature) and parasites on larval anurans. We hope that this review will convince the reader of the potential importance of these parasites to aquatic communities in general, and to amphibian communities specifically, and will also provide the information necessary for aquatic ecologists to more frequently consider the role of these parasites in their studies of aquatic ecology.

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