Hosts as habitats

The essential difference between the ecology of parasites and that of free-living organisms is that the habitats of parasites are themselves alive. A living habitat is capable of growth (in numbers and/or size); it is potentially reactive, i.e. it can respond actively to the presence of a parasite by changing its nature, developing immune reactions to the parasite, digesting it, isolating or imprisoning it; it is able to evolve; and in the case of many animal parasites, it is mobile and has patterns of movement that dramatically affect dispersal (transmission) from one habitable host to another.

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