In a new find, researchers have revealed that climate change will kill nearly one-third of all the parasite species from our planet earth in next five decade. According to researchers from the Unversity of California, Berkley, manmade activities are creating ecological imbalance, and if it continues at a similar pace then several species of parasites like tapeworms, roundworms, ticks, lice, and fleas will go extinct from Earth.
Study authors revealed parasites although thrive on other species, but they are essential elements of our ecosystem. As it turns out, parasites are actually some of the Earth’s most threatened life forms as a result of climate change.
For the study, a team of 17 researchers from eight countries analysed specimens of different parasites and tried to get better insights of their habitat. Researchers also used climate forecasts to determine its effect on 457 species of parasites. What study authors found was mind boggling as they believe that changing climatic conditions will wipe out nearly a third species of parasites by 2070.
“Climate change will make some parasites extinct and make some do better. But we would argue the overall phenomenon is dangerous, because extinctions and invasions go hand in hand,” said Colin Carlson from the University of California Berkeley, lead author of the study.
Study authors further warned that extinction of parasites would create an ecological imbalance as they contribute to keeping wildlife populations in check, and in providing a large percentage of food chain links. Many parasites have complex life cycles that require being passed from one host to another. Because of this, having strong populations of parasites are often indicators of a healthy ecosystem.
“It means the system has a diversity of animals in it and that conditions have been consistent long enough for these complex associations to develop,” said Anna J. Phillips of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. What’s more, a wide range of parasites in an ecosystem means that they could compete with one another, therefore slowing down the spread of diseases. Without them, the ecosystem could be seriously affected.
The study appeared in the journal Science Advances.