Parasite Biodiversity

In this module, students have the opportunity to discover the hidden world of parasites: they will come face to face with living parasites, learn about what differentiates parasites from free-living species, observe some common adaptations to a parasitic lifestyle, explore the ecological role of parasites in food webs, and assess how parasite abundance might change in a changing world. To accomplish these goals, this module includes an introductory PowerPoint presentation (including a video of parasite ecologist Dr. Chelsea L. Wood delivering this introductory lecture) and two exercises. The first exercise is a wet lab that involves dissecting an easy (and disturbing) source of live parasite material: fresh fish from your local seafood market. The second exercise is a computer lab that will allow students to engage with real data to answer the question: how do human impacts on ecosystems change the abundance of parasites in wildlife? This module will introduce students to the basics of parasite ecology and provide an opportunity to practice their data analysis and interpretation skills.

Featured in: *Lessons in Conservation: Systems Thinking Issue

See also:
The Importance of Invertebrate Biodiversity
Biodiversity Conservation and Human Health

Theme: Ecology for Conservation

Language: English

Region: Global

Keywords: coral, ecology, pathogen, parasitism

Components: 11

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learn

Synthesis: Parasite Biodiversity

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood

   

This synthesis gives an introduction to the hidden world of parasites and includes sections on parasites in our lives, parasite adaptations and ecological roles, and parasites in a changing world.

Recommended Resource: Parasite Biodiversity Lecture

Author: C. Wood

   

This 38-min video lecture is presented by Dr. Chelsea L. Wood and covers background material from the synthesis along with vivid examples and important insights. The presentation slides and transcript are available in the PowerPoint under "Teach".


practice

Exercise: Fish Dissection and Assays for Parasites

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood

   

This exercise is a wet lab that involves dissecting an easy (and disturbing) source of live parasite material: fresh fish from your local seafood market. Students will search for both ectoparasites (on the outside of the host) and endoparasites (inside the tissues of the host). They will create a lab notebook entry, and they will also discuss observations of parasites within their fish and patterns among other fish dissected in the class.

Exercise: Community Data Analysis

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood

   

This exercise is a computer-based practical session that involves preparing and analyzing data on the communities of parasites within coral reef fishes. Students will determine whether and how human activity, specifically fishing, alters the number and type of parasites present within the fish. By examining real data on the parasites of coral reef fish, analyzing the data using summary statistics, and plotting their results graphically, students will draw meaningful conclusions about complex communities.

Exercise: Community Data Analysis – Data (Excel format)

   

Exercise: Community Data Analysis – Data (csv format)


teach

Presentation: Parasite Biodiversity

Author: C. Wood

This PowerPoint includes the slides and transcript of the lecture video. It can be adapted and modified for your needs.

Evaluation Tool: Parasite Biodiversity Pre- and Post- Assessment

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood

The purpose of this assessment is to evaluate student knowledge of parasite biodiversity both before and after completion of the lesson. It is expected that students will likely have limited knowledge about parasite biodiversity before completion of the lesson, and that scores will improve after completion of the lesson. All answers are multiple choice, and the subject material is covered in the Synthesis document and presentation.

Solutions: Fish Dissection and Assays for Parasites

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood

Solutions: Community Data Analysis – Data

Solutions: Community Data Analysis

Author: D. Claar, A. Kuris, K. Leslie, R. Welicky, M. Williams, C. Wood


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1 Comment


What an amazing resource! Thanks for making available to educators. I'll be teaching parasitology for the first time next fall and am looking forward to incorporating these exercises into lab.Joanna Cielocha, 1/27/2021