Ecology of marine parasites
- K. Rohde1
© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1984
Important ecological aspects of marine parasites are discussed. Whereas effects of parasites on host individuals sometimes leading to death are known from many groups of parasites, effects on host populations have been studied much less. Mass mortalities have been observed mainly among hosts occurring in abnormally dense populations or after introduction of parasites by man. As a result of large-scale human activities, it becomes more and more difficult to observe effects of parasites on host populations under “natural” conditions. Particular emphasis is laid on ecological characteristics of parasites, such as host range and specificity, microhabitats, macrohabitats, food, life span, aggregated distribution, numbers and kinds of parasites, pathogenicity and mechanisms of reproduction and infection and on how such characteristics are affected by environment and hosts. It is stressed that host specificity indices which take frequency and/or intensity of infection into account, are a better measure of restriction of parasites to certain hosts than “host range” which simply is the number of host species found to be infected.