Ecosystems could be seriously disrupted if much of the world’s parasites are extinguished, something that could happen in the coming decades as a result of climate change .
Tapeworms, worms, ticks, lice, fleas and other pests do not seem very important, rather they pose a health problem on many occasions, but existence helps control wildlife populations and maintain the flow of energy through food chains .
The work that warns of this possibility of parasitic extinction, published in Science Advances , has been carried out by Anna J. Phillips , a research zoologist and curator of the National Collection of Parasites of the United States at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. As she herself explains:
Having parasites is a good indicator that the ecosystem has been stable. It means that the system has a diversity of animals in it and that conditions have been consistent long enough for these complex associations to develop.
Parasites are even more threatened than the host animals they depend on. The most catastrophic model predicted that more than a third of parasite species worldwide could be lost by 2070 . The most optimistic models predicted a loss of around 10 percent.