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Parasites and Ecosystem Engineering: What Roles Could They Play?

Frédéric Thomas, Robert Poulin, Thierry de Meeüs, Jean-François Guégan and François Renaud
Oikos
Vol. 84, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 167-171
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3546879
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3546879
Page Count: 5
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Parasites and Ecosystem Engineering: What Roles Could They Play?
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Abstract

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding the ecological importance of ecosystem engineers. In this paper we argue that parasites, through the phenotypic alterations they induce in their hosts, are likely to be involved in engineering processes for at least two reasons. First, when ecosystem engineers are themselves infected, phenotypic alterations induced by parasites can interfere with host traits involved in the engineering processes. Secondly, parasites themselves can be ecosystem engineers since the phenotypic alterations of hosts directly modify the habitat of all the species inhabiting free-living organisms. This new research area at the interface between ecology and parasitology should improve our understanding of the ecological consequences of phenotypic alterations induced by parasites in ecosystems.

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