How can we use molecular methods to better understand parasite ecology?
Parasites account for an astonishing proportion of animal diversity (nearly half!). However, we know relatively little about their ecology, and we are even further limited in our understanding of co-infections and sharing among multiple host species. I'm currently using metabarcoding methods to compare parasitic nematode communities across wild herbivores, and I'm keenly interested in finding ways to integrate parasite natural history and ecology with large-scale and long-term non-invasive sampling. Efforts such as this will be key to documenting parasite diversity and understanding parasite communities as global changes alter host and parasite populations.
- Titcomb, G., Jerde, C. L. & Young, H. S. High-Throughput Sequencing for Understanding the Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wildlife-Human Interface. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7, 126 (2019).
- McElroy, M.E.; Dressler, T.L.; Titcomb, G.; Wilson, E.A.; Deiner, K.; Dudley, T.L.; Eliason, E.J.; Evans, N.T.; Gaines, S.D.; Lafferty, K.D.; Lamberti, G.A.; Li, Y.; Lodge, D.M.; Love, M.S.; Mahon, A.R.; Pfrender, M.E.; Renshaw, M.; Selkoe, K.A.; Jerde, C.L. Calibrating environmental DNA metabarcoding to conventional surveys for measuring fish species richness. Front. Ecol. Evol. 8, 276 (2020).