Host Diversity

Parasitism has been posited as a factor that promotes biodiversity, but it is equally logical to expect that high host diversity and abundance should promote parasitism. Hosts serve as both habitat and dispersal agents for parasites and an abundance of hosts should lead to an abundance of parasites. Further, because parasites tend to be host specific, increased species heterogeneity of host communities can facilitate increased species heterogeneity of parasite communities. As a result, a high richness of hosts should contribute to a high richness of parasites. In some cases, parasites may make costeffective bio-indicators of ecosystem health, but here the prediction is counter intuitive - ecosystems with abundant and diverse hosts should support abundant and diverse parasites. There are two exceptions to this prediction. If host abundance decreases because of high diversity, few parasite species may be able to sustain transmission. In addition, if a parasite's vector attacks hosts the parasite cannot develop in, a high diversity of hosts can mean a high probability of contact with non-hosts, thereby diluting transmission.

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