Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A review on invasions by parasites with complex life cycles: the European strain of Echinococcus multilocularis in North America as a model.

Abstract

In a fast-changing and globalized world, parasites are moved across continents at an increasing pace. Co-invasion of parasites and their hosts is leading to the emergence of infectious diseases at a global scale, underlining the need for integration of biological invasions and disease ecology research. In this review, the ecological and evolutionary factors influencing the invasion process of parasites with complex life cycles were analysed, using the invasion of the European strain of Echinococcus multilocularis in North America as a model. The aim was to propose an ecological framework for investigating the invasion of parasites that are trophically transmitted through predator-prey interactions, showing how despite the complexity of the cycles and the interactions among multiple hosts, such parasites can overcome multiple barriers and become invasive. Identifying the key ecological processes affecting the success of parasite invasions is an important step for risk assessment and development of management strategies, particularly for parasites with the potential to infect people (i.e. zoonotic).