A life cycle database for parasitic acanthocephalans, cestodes, and nematodes

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Abstract

Parasitologists have worked out many complex life cycles over the last ~150 yr, yet there have been few efforts to synthesize this information to facilitate comparisons among taxa. Most existing host-parasite databases focus on particular host taxa, do not distinguish final from intermediate hosts, and lack parasite life-history information. We summarized the known life cycles of trophically transmitted parasitic acanthocephalans, cestodes, and nematodes. For 973 parasite species, we gathered information from the literature on the hosts infected at each stage of the parasite life cycle (8,510 host-parasite species associations), what parasite stage is in each host, and whether parasites need to infect certain hosts to complete the life cycle. We also collected life-history data for these parasites at each life cycle stage, including 2,313 development time measurements and 7,660 body size measurements. The result is the most comprehensive data summary available for these parasite taxa. In addition to identifying gaps in our knowledge of parasite life cycles, these data can be used to test hypotheses about life cycle evolution, host specificity, parasite life-history strategies, and the roles of parasites in food webs.

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Benesh, D. P., Lafferty, K. D., & Kuris, A. (2017). A life cycle database for parasitic acanthocephalans, cestodes, and nematodes. Ecology, 98(3), 882. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.1680

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