NCEAS Project 12106

Parasites and food webs - the ultimate missing links

  • Kevin D. Lafferty
  • Andrew P. Dobson
  • Mercedes Pascual

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group13th—17th September 2007Participant List  
Working Group3rd—8th March 2008Participant List  
Working Group6th—11th April 2009Participant List  
Working Group26th—30th October 2009Participant List  
Working Group22nd—26th February 2010Participant List  
Working Group24th—28th January 2011Participant List  

Food webs are a conceptual underpinning for community ecology. Unfortunately, nearly all webs do not include parasites. Considering that parasitism is the most popular lifestyle on Earth, there is concern that food webs may not be complete without parasites. This working group brings together a range of experts on parasitism, food web theory, and empirical food webs to consider how parasites can be included into food-webs and to explore the consequences of their inclusion. The working group will focus on developing theoretical food webs capable of considering parasites, investigate, in detail, the few food webs that include parasites, and collate information that will allow us to assemble food-webs for a number well-studied ecosystems for which parasite data are available. Ultimately we hope to convince ecologists to incorporate parasites into all future food web studies.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Dobson, Andrew P.; Allesina, Stefano; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Pascual, Mercedes. 2009. The assembly, collapse and restoration of food webs. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Vol: 364. Pages 1803-1806. (Online version)
Journal Article Dunne, Jennifer A.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Dobson, Andrew P.; Hechinger, Ryan; Kuris, Armand; Martinez, Neo; McLaughlin, John; Mouritsen, Kim; Poulin, Robert; Reise, Karsten; Stouffer, Daniel B.; Thieltges, David; Williams, Richard J.; Dieter Zander, Claus. 2013. Parasites affect food web structure primarily through increased diversity and complexity. PLoS Biology. Vol: 11. Pages e1001579-e1001579. (Online version)
Journal Article Hechinger, Ryan; Lafferty, Kevin D.; McLaughlin, John; Fredensborg, Brian L.; Huspeni, Todd C.; Lorda, Julio; Sandhu, Parwant K.; Shaw, Jenny C.; Torchin, Mark E.; Kuris, Armand. 2011. Food webs including parasites, biomass, body sizes, and life stages for three California/Baja California estuaries. Ecology. Vol: 92(3). Pages 791. (Online version)
Journal Article Johnson, Pieter; Dobson, Andrew P.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Marcogliese, David J.; Memmott, Jane; Orlofske, Sarah A.; Poulin, Robert; Thieltges, David. 2010. When parasites become prey: Ecological and epidemiological significance of eating parasites. Vol: 25(6). Pages 362-371. (Online version)
Journal Article Lafferty, Kevin D.; Allesina, Stefano; Arim, Matias; Briggs, Cheryl J.; De Leo, Giulio; Dobson, Andrew P.; Dunne, Jennifer A.; Johnson, Pieter; Kuris, Armand; Marcogliese, David J.; Martinez, Neo; Memmott, Jane; Marquet, Pablo A.; McLaughlin, John; Mordecai, Erin A.; Pascual, Mercedes; Poulin, Robert; Thieltges, David. 2008. Parasites in food webs: The ultimate missing links. Ecology Letters. Vol: 11. Pages 533-546.
Journal Article Lafferty, Kevin D.; Kuris, Armand. 2009. Parasites reduce food web robustness because they are sensitive to secondary extinction as illustrated by an invasive estuarine snail. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Vol: 364(1524). Pages 1659-1663. (Online version)
Journal Article Lafferty, Kevin D.; Dunne, Jennifer A. 2010. Stochastic ecological network occupancy (SENO) models: A new tool for modeling ecological networks across spatial scales. Theoretical Ecology. Vol: 3(3). Pages 123-135. (Online version)
Journal Article Thieltges, David; Amundsen, Per-Arne; Hechinger, Ryan; Johnson, Pieter; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Mouritsen, Kim; Preston, Daniel L.; Reise, Karsten; Dieter Zander, Claus; Poulin, Robert. 2013. Parasites as prey in aquatic food webs: implications for predator infection and parasite transmission. Oikos. Vol: 122. Pages 1473-1482.
Journal Article Thompson, Ross M.; Poulin, Robert; Mouritsen, Kim; Thieltges, David. 2013. Resource tracking in marine parasites: Going with the flow?. Oikos. Vol: 122. Pages 1187-1194. (Online version)
Journal Article Valtonen, E. T.; Marcogliese, David J.; Julkunen, Markku. 2010. Vertebrate diets derived from trophically transmitted fish parasites in the Bothnian Bay. Oecologia. Vol: 162. Pages 139-152. (Online version)
Journal Article Warren, Christopher P.; Pascual, Mercedes; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Kuris, Armand. 2010. The inverse niche model for food webs with parasites. Theoretical Ecology. Vol: 3(4). Pages 285-294. (Online version)