Parasitism and the Biodiversity-Functioning Relationship
Species interactions can influence ecosystem functioning by enhancing or suppressing the activities of species that drive ecosystem processes, or by causing changes in biodiversity. However, one important class of species interactions – parasitism – has been little considered in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BD-EF) research. Parasites might increase or decrease ecosystem processes by reducing host abundance. Parasites could also increase trait diversity by suppressing dominant species or by increasing within-host trait diversity. These different mechanisms by which parasites might affect ecosystem function pose challenges in predicting their net effects. Nonetheless, given the ubiquity of parasites, we propose that parasite–host interactions should be incorporated into the BD-EF framework.
Submitted manuscript version. Published version available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2018.01.011.