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Parasites and marine invasions

January 1, 2002

Introduced marine species are a major environmental and economic problem. The rate of these biological invasions has substantially increased in recent years due to the globalization of the world's economies. The damage caused by invasive species is often a result of the higher densities and larger sizes they attain compared to where they are native. A prominent hypothesis explaining the success of introduced species is that they are relatively free of the effects of natural enemies. Most notably, they may encounter fewer parasites in their introduced range compared to their native range. Parasites are ubiquitous and pervasive in marine systems, yet their role in marine invasions is relatively unexplored. Although data on parasites of marine organisms exist, the extent to which parasites can mediate marine invasions, or the extent to which invasive parasites and pathogens are responsible for infecting or potentially decimating native marine species have not been examined. In this review, we present a theoretical framework to model invasion success and examine the evidence for a relationship between parasite presence and the success of introduced marine species. For this, we compare the prevalence and species richness of parasites in several introduced populations of marine species with populations where they are native. We also discuss the potential impacts of introduced marine parasites on native ecosystems.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Parasites and marine invasions
DOI 10.1017/S0031182002001506
Authors M.E. Torchin, K. D. Lafferty, A.M. Kuris
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Parasitology
Series Number
Index ID 1008215
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center