Different host species and individuals are inhabited by different communities of parasites. One of the central goals of the RCN is to determine the factors shaping parasite richness and diversity among hosts. This involves the application of tools from community ecology, and the development of new tools to analyze parasite communities.
Mammals under threat due to infectious disease. Infectious disease seems to be a much more important factor in driving extinction risk in carnivores and ungulates than other mammal groups. The conditions under which disease can elevate extinction risk remain poorly understood Courtesy: C. Nunn
Threat status and parasite species richness in primates. Threatened primate species seem to harbor significantly fewer parasite species than more common species. Courtesy C. Nunn.
Taenia saginata, the beef tapeworm, a parasite of both cattle and humans. One of the major goals of the RCN is to understand what biological and ecological factors make host species more or less likely to share susceptibility to infection by a given parasite or disease.
Participants in the inaugural meeting of the RCN, October 1013 in Athens Ga. Right to left, top row: Patrick R. Stephens, Jonathan T. Davies, David Onstad, John Drake, Robert Poulin, Andrew Park, Rebecca A. Hutchinson, Gonazalo M. Vazquez-Prokopec, Jeb Byers, Rob Critchlow, James Brown, Charles L. Nunn. Bottom row: Sonia Altizer, Pieter Johnson, Molly Fisher, Shan Huang, Katherine Smith, Vanessa Ezenwa.
An ecological network depicting the pattern of shared parasites by primates species. Each node represents a primate species. The links among nodes depict shared parasites (i.e., two nodes are linked whenever they share a parasite species). Primates in the center of the network share more infectious diseases with humans. From: GÃ³mez, J. M., Nunn, C. L., & VerdÃº, M. (2013). Centrality in primateâ€“parasite networks reveals the potential for the transmission of emerging infectious diseases to humans. Proceedings of the National more »