U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Bevins, S.N. 2019. Parasitism, host behavior, and invasive species. pgs 273-278. In: J.C. Choe, editor. Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2nd edition, vol 1. Elsevier, Academic Press. 3048 pp.


U.S. government work


Animal behavior and parasitism are inextricable linked. In many cases, host behavior can affect what parasites are encountered. In other cases, parasites can manipulate the behavior of the host in an attempt to maximize their own transmission. These long-standing interactions are now further complicated by species movement around the globe. The list of introduced species that have become invasive includes parasites that have adapted to new hosts in areas of introduction, as well as invasive hosts that alter the association between existing parasite–host assemblages. Researchers have documented differences in rates of parasitism and in the consequences of parasite infection between invasive and native hosts, and sometimes these differences are a result of behavioral differences, either pre-existing host behaviors or host behaviors that are altered as a consequence of infection. Parasites have been shown to mediate interactions between native and invasive hosts; occasionally, these parasites determine the outcome of invasions. The effects on native species can be severe, and to that end, interactions between invasive species, parasites, and behavior have ramifications for conservation biology.

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