As part of International Year of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History Curator Susan Perkins celebrates with a blog featuring a Parasite of the Day for the entire year!
Here's more about her site and why we should care about parasites.
From Celebrating Biodiversity, Parasite by Parasite
on the American Museum of Natural History website
For the next 365 days, American Museum of Natural History Curator Susan Perkins is going to wiggle through thousands of species, burrow through relationship networks, and siphon off the relevant and interesting facts for her new blog, Parasite of the Day. Perkins will post a daily profile of a parasite that she unearths as part of a celebration of the United Nation’s International Year of Biodiversity.
Parasites are those species that we blast with an arsenal of chemicals, pinch to remove from our pets and plants, and, well, generally try to shake off. But parasites have amazing evolutionary histories and biological adaptations, and Perkins, who studies malaria and other pathogens, is the perfect person to tout them.
Check out her blog each day to see what stories she finds. Recent posts include tapeworms that inhabit rodents via flour beetles, an insect-infecting bacterium that is a distant relative of Salmonella and sometimes feminizes males, barnacles that get crabs to care for them as if eggs, and Trypanosoma brucei, the single-celled organisms that use rapid costume changes to fool immune systems and cause the disease sleeping sickness.
Do parasites matter?
Here's some interesting links ...
- Toxoplasma - the brain parasite that influences human culture by Ed Yong on his Not Exactly Rocket Science. Also check out his other posts on parasites.
- Can parasites influence the language we speak? by Catherine Brahic on New Scientist 16 Jun 2008
- Parasites Might Spur Evolution Of Strange Amphibian Breeding Habits Science Daily 15 Nov , 2007. See also the Science Daily's Pest and Parasite News
- Parasites in food webs: the ultimate missing links (pdf) Kevin D. Lafferty et al, Ecology Letters, (2008) 11: 533–546 doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01174.x