Thermal Change and the Dynamics of Multi-Host Parasite Life Cycles in Aquatic Ecosystems

Iain Barber*, Boris W. Berkhout, Zalina Ismail

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Altered thermal regimes associated with climate change are impacting significantly on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the Earth's natural ecosystems, with important implications for the biology of aquatic organisms. As well as impacting the biology of individual species, changing thermal regimes have the capacity to mediate ecological interactions between species, and the potential for climate change to impact host-parasite interactions in aquatic ecosystems is now well recognized. Predicting what will happen to the prevalence and intensity of infection of parasites with multiple hosts in their life cycles is especially challenging because the addition of each additional host dramatically increases the potential permutations of response. In this short review, we provide an overview of the diverse routes by which altered thermal regimes can impact the dynamics of multi-host parasite life cycles in aquatic ecosystems. In addition, we examine how experimentally amenable host-parasite systems are being used to determine the consequences of changing environmental temperatures for these different types of mechanism. Our overarching aim is to examine the potential of changing thermal regimes to alter not only the biology of hosts and parasites, but also the biology of interactions between hosts and parasites. We also hope to illustrate the complexity that is likely to be involved in making predictions about the dynamics of infection by multi-host parasites in thermally challenged aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-572
Number of pages12
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms/physiology
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem
  • Host-Parasite Interactions/physiology
  • Life Cycle Stages/physiology
  • Parasites/physiology
  • Temperature


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