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Posted Tue Jun 2 2009: from North Carolina State University, via EurekAlert:
When hosts go extinct, what happens to their parasites?
But what happens to the parasites hosted by endangered species? And although most people would side with the panda over the parasite, which group should we worry about more? ... For example, each fig species tends to be pollinated by a single fig wasp such that the loss of one should result in the loss of the other.... "The models suggest thousands of coextinctions have already occurred and that hundreds of thousands may be on the horizon. Yet we have observed few such events," Dunn says. "So we're not sure if all of these coextinctions are happening and not being tracked, or if parasites and mutualist species are better able to switch partners than we give them credit for, or something in between."... "There is a distinct possibility that declines in host species could drive parasite species to switch onto alternative hosts, which in turn could escalate the rate of emerging pathogens and parasites both for humans and our domesticated animals and plants," Dunn says. "Put simply, when a host becomes rare, its parasites and mutualists have two choices: jump ship to another host or go extinct. Either situation is a problem."
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, invasive species]
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'Doc Michael says:
That's an ugly new form of "invasive species."

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