Parasites and Food Webs

The Ultimate Missing Links

Principal Investigator(s): 

Kevin Lafferty, Andrew P. Dobson, Mercedes Pascual

Food webs are a conceptual underpinning for community ecology. Unfortunately, nearly all webs fail to 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.

This Working Group brings together a range of experts on parasitism, food web theory, and empirical food webs to consider how to move ecology forward with parasites. This will include

  • Developing theoretical food webs capable of considering parasites
  • Investigate, in detail, the few food webs with parasites
  • Consider how ecologists can incorporate parasites into future food web studies

The results of this research will provide a more complete view of nature and provide insight into better controls for infectious disease.

More information about this project