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The role of infectious disease in marine communities: chapter 5

January 1, 2014

Marine ecologists recognize that infectious diseases play and important role in ocean ecosystems. This role may have increased in some host taxa over time (Ward and Lafferty 2004). We begin this chapter by introducing infectious agents and their relationships with their hosts in marine systems. We then put infectious disease agents with their hosts in marine systems. We then put infectious disease agents in the perspective of marine biodiversity and discuss the various factors that affect parasites. Specifically, we introduce some basin epidemiological concepts, including the effects of stress and free-living diversity on parasites. Following this, we give brief consideration to communities of parasites within their hosts, particularly as these can lead to general insights into community ecology. We also give examples of how infectious diseases affect host populations, scaling up to marine communities. Finally, we present examples of marine infectious disease that impair conservation and fisheries.