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Marine Disease Ecology$
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Donald C. Behringer, Brian R. Silliman, and Kevin D. Lafferty

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198821632

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198821632.001.0001

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Disease can shape marine ecosystems

Disease can shape marine ecosystems

(p.61) Chapter 3 Disease can shape marine ecosystems
Marine Disease Ecology

Joseph P. Morton

Brian R. Silliman

Kevin D. Lafferty

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews how marine ecosystems respond to parasites. Evidence from several marine ecosystems shows that parasites can wield control over ecosystem structure, function, and dynamics by regulating host density and phenotype. Like predators, parasites can generate or modify trophic cascades, regulate important foundational species and ecosystem engineers, and mediate species coexistence by affecting competitive outcomes. Sometimes the parasites have clear positive impacts within ecosystems, such as increasing species diversity or maintaining ecosystem stability. Other times, parasites may have destabilizing effects that signal an ecosystem out of balance. But it is now clear that some (but not all) parasites can have strong and, at times, predictable effects, and should thus be incorporated into food web and ecosystem models

Keywords:   Parasites, ecosystem structure, ecosystem function, ecosystem dynamics, trophic cascade, competition, ecosystem engineer, foundation species, trait-mediated indirect effects, density-mediated effects

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