Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
How specialists can be generalists: resolving the “parasite paradox” and implications for emerging infectious disease
University of Toronto.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7905
University of Toronto.
2010 (English)In: Zoologia, ISSN 1984-4670, Vol. 27, no 2, 151-162 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The parasite paradox arises from the dual observations that parasites (broadly construed, including phy- tophagous insects) are resource specialists with restricted host ranges, and yet shifts onto relatively unrelated hosts are common in the phylogenetic diversification of parasite lineages and directly observable in ecological time. We synthe- size the emerging solution to this paradox: phenotypic flexibility and phylogenetic conservatism in traits related to resource use, grouped under the term ecological fitting, provide substantial opportunities for rapid host switching in changing environments, in the absence of the evolution of novel host-utilization capabilities. We discuss mechanisms behind ecological fitting, its implications for defining specialists and generalists, and briefly review empirical examples of host shifts in the context of ecological fitting. We conclude that host shifts via ecological fitting provide the fuel for the expansion phase of the recently proposed oscillation hypothesis of host range and speciation, and, more generally, the generation of novel combinations of interacting species within the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution. Finally, we conclude that taxon pulses, driven by climate change and large-scale ecological perturbation are drivers of biotic mixing and resultant ecological fitting, which leads to increased rates of rapid host switching, including the agents of Emerging Infectious Disease.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 27, no 2, 151-162 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43021DOI: 10.1590/51984-46702010000200001ISI: 000277490100001OAI: diva2:353103
Available from: 2010-09-23 Created: 2010-09-23 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Janz, Niklas
By organisation
Department of Zoology
Natural Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 107 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link