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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 18, 2023
  2. Abstract Earth is rapidly losing free-living species. Is the same true for parasitic species? To reveal temporal trends in biodiversity, historical data are needed, but often such data do not exist for parasites. Here, parasite communities of the past were reconstructed by identifying parasites in fluid-preserved specimens held in natural history collections. Approximately 2500 macroparasites were counted from 109 English Sole ( Parophrys vetulus ) collected between 1930 and 2019 in the Salish Sea, Washington, USA. Alpha and beta diversity were measured to determine if and how diversity changed over time. Species richness of parasite infracommunities and community dispersion did not vary over time, but community composition of decadal component communities varied significantly over the study period. Community dissimilarity also varied: prior to the mid-20th century, parasites shifted in abundance in a seemingly stochastic manner and, after this time period, a canalization of community change was observed, where species' abundances began to shift in consistent directions. Further work is needed to elucidate potential drivers of these changes and to determine if these patterns are present in the parasite communities of other fishes of the Salish Sea.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  4. The development of water management infrastructures, such as dams and canals, are important components of society’s response to feed a growing human population and to fight climate change. Yet, these changes in land use can also increase the transmission risk for waterborne diseases. Transmission risk associated with artificial reservoirs has been extensively documented for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease of poverty that infects more than 240 million people worldwide. Over 90% of these cases are in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is being steadily reshaped by climate change. Controlling the parasite’s obligate intermediate host snail is key to reducing transmission of this disease. Using commercial aquaculture to farm marketable species which predate upon these snails in vulnerable regions can have multiple positive effects, including the improved socioeconomic and nutritional health of surrounding communities. Here the authors assessed the viability of using the aquaculture of snail predators to simultaneously control schistosomiasis infection rates while alleviating economic and/or nutritional poverty in endemic regions of sub-Saharan Africa. A PRISMA-based 6-step systematic methodology was used to explore the primary literature using the case study of Côte d’Ivoire and two native species of snail predator to make evidence-based conclusions on the viability of this method formore »controlling schistosomiasis. This detailed thematic examination of the literature concluded that using specific approaches and species, aquaculture could be effective in reducing economic poverty and chronic malnourishment along with high levels of schistosomiasis infection. More current species-specific aquaculture data and consumer survey data are, however, needed to determine the economic and logistical effectiveness of farming native snail predators in-country. These and other opportunities for future research are highlighted.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 21, 2023
  5. Lutermann, Heike (Ed.)
    The unusual blue color polymorphism of lingcod ( Ophiodon elongatus ) is the subject of much speculation but little empirical research; ~20% of lingcod individuals exhibit this striking blue color morph, which is discrete from and found within the same populations as the more common brown morph. In other species, color polymorphisms are intimately linked with host–parasite interactions, which led us to ask whether blue coloration in lingcod might be associated with parasitism, either as cause or effect. To test how color and parasitism are related in this host species, we performed parasitological dissection of 89 lingcod individuals collected across more than 26 degrees of latitude from Alaska, Washington, and California, USA. We found that male lingcod carried 1.89 times more parasites if they were blue than if they were brown, whereas there was no difference in parasite burden between blue and brown female lingcod. Blue individuals of both sexes had lower hepatosomatic index (i.e., relative liver weight) values than did brown individuals, indicating that blueness is associated with poor body condition. The immune systems of male vertebrates are typically less effective than those of females, due to the immunocompromising properties of male sex hormones; this might explain why bluenessmore »is associated with elevated parasite burdens in males but not in females. What remains to be determined is whether parasites induce physiological damage that produces blueness or if both blue coloration and parasite burden are driven by some unmeasured variable, such as starvation. Although our study cannot discriminate between these possibilities, our data suggest that the immune system could be involved in the blue color polymorphism–an exciting jumping-off point for future research to definitively identify the cause of lingcod blueness and a hint that immunocompetence and parasitism may play a role in lingcod population dynamics.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2022
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  7. Schistosomiasis is a debilitating parasitic disease of poverty that affects more than 200 million people worldwide, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and is clearly associated with the construction of dams and water resource management infrastructure in tropical and subtropical areas. Changes to hydrology and salinity linked to water infrastructure development may create conditions favorable to the aquatic vegetation that is suitable habitat for the intermediate snail hosts of schistosome parasites. With thousands of small and large water reservoirs, irrigation canals, and dams developed or under construction in Africa, it is crucial to accurately assess the spatial distribution of high-risk environments that are habitat for freshwater snail intermediate hosts of schistosomiasis in rapidly changing ecosystems. Yet, standard techniques for monitoring snails are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and provide information limited to the small areas that can be manually sampled. Consequently, in low-income countries where schistosomiasis control is most needed, there are formidable challenges to identifying potential transmission hotspots for targeted medical and environmental interventions. In this study, we developed a new framework to map the spatial distribution of suitable snail habitat across large spatial scales in the Senegal River Basin by integrating satellite data, high-definition, low-cost drone imagery, and an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered computermore »vision technique called semantic segmentation. A deep learning model (U-Net) was built to automatically analyze high-resolution satellite imagery to produce segmentation maps of aquatic vegetation, with a fast and robust generalized prediction that proved more accurate than a more commonly used random forest approach. Accurate and up-to-date knowledge of areas at highest risk for disease transmission can increase the effectiveness of control interventions by targeting habitat of disease-carrying snails. With the deployment of this new framework, local governments or health actors might better target environmental interventions to where and when they are most needed in an integrated effort to reach the goal of schistosomiasis elimination.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  8. The abundances of free-living species have changed dramatically in recent decades, but little is known about change in the abundance of parasitic species. We investigated whether populations of several parasites have shifted over time in two shore crab hosts, Hemigrapsus oregonensis and Hemigrapsus nudus, by comparing the prevalence and abundance of three parasite taxa in a historical dataset (1969–1970) to contemporary parasite abundance (2018–2020) for hosts collected from 11 intertidal sites located from Oregon, USA, to British Columbia, Canada. Our data suggest that the abundance of the parasitic isopod Portunion conformis has varied around a stable mean for the past 50 years. No change over time was observed for larval acanthocephalans. However, larval microphallid trematodes increased in prevalence over time among H. oregonensis hosts, from a mean of 8.4–61.8% between the historical and contemporary time points. The substantial increase in the prevalence of larval microphallid trematodes could be owing to increased abundances of their bird final hosts, increased production of parasite infective stages by snail intermediate hosts or both. Our study highlights the variability among parasite species in their temporal trajectories of change.
  9. Lamberton, Poppy H. (Ed.)
    Background Infectious disease risk is driven by three interrelated components: exposure, hazard, and vulnerability. For schistosomiasis, exposure occurs through contact with water, which is often tied to daily activities. Water contact, however, does not imply risk unless the environmental hazard of snails and parasites is also present in the water. By increasing reliance on hazardous activities and environments, socio-economic vulnerability can hinder reductions in exposure to a hazard. We aimed to quantify the contributions of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability to the presence and intensity of Schistosoma haematobium re-infection. Methodology/Principal findings In 13 villages along the Senegal River, we collected parasitological data from 821 school-aged children, survey data from 411 households where those children resided, and ecological data from all 24 village water access sites. We fit mixed-effects logistic and negative binomial regressions with indices of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability as explanatory variables of Schistosoma haematobium presence and intensity, respectively, controlling for demographic variables. Using multi-model inference to calculate the relative importance of each component of risk, we found that hazard (Ʃw i = 0.95) was the most important component of S . haematobium presence, followed by vulnerability (Ʃw i = 0.91). Exposure (Ʃw i = 1.00) was the most importantmore »component of S . haematobium intensity, followed by hazard (Ʃw i = 0.77). Model averaging quantified associations between each infection outcome and indices of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability, revealing a positive association between hazard and infection presence (OR = 1.49, 95% CI 1.12, 1.97), and a positive association between exposure and infection intensity (RR 2.59–3.86, depending on the category; all 95% CIs above 1) Conclusions/Significance Our findings underscore the linkages between social (exposure and vulnerability) and environmental (hazard) processes in the acquisition and accumulation of S . haematobium infection. This approach highlights the importance of implementing both social and environmental interventions to complement mass drug administration.« less
  10. Secor, W. Evan (Ed.)
    Schistosome parasites infect more than 200 million people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where people may be co-infected with more than one species of the parasite. Infection risk for any single species is determined, in part, by the distribution of its obligate intermediate host snail. As the World Health Organization reprioritizes snail control to reduce the global burden of schistosomiasis, there is renewed importance in knowing when and where to target those efforts, which could vary by schistosome species. This study estimates factors associated with schistosomiasis risk in 16 villages located in the Senegal River Basin, a region hyperendemic for Schistosoma haematobium and S . mansoni . We first analyzed the spatial distributions of the two schistosomes’ intermediate host snails ( Bulinus spp. and Biomphalaria pfeifferi , respectively) at village water access sites. Then, we separately evaluated the relationships between human S . haematobium and S . mansoni infections and (i) the area of remotely-sensed snail habitat across spatial extents ranging from 1 to 120 m from shorelines, and (ii) water access site size and shape characteristics. We compared the influence of snail habitat across spatial extents because, while snail sampling is traditionally done near shorelines, we hypothesized that snailsmore »further from shore also contribute to infection risk. We found that, controlling for demographic variables, human risk for S . haematobium infection was positively correlated with snail habitat when snail habitat was measured over a much greater radius from shore (45 m to 120 m) than usual. S . haematobium risk was also associated with large, open water access sites. However, S . mansoni infection risk was associated with small, sheltered water access sites, and was not positively correlated with snail habitat at any spatial sampling radius. Our findings highlight the need to consider different ecological and environmental factors driving the transmission of each schistosome species in co-endemic landscapes.« less