Wednesday February 8, 2023


Over 100 years of preserved fish specimens provide a unique look at parasite population trends over time. A study from the University of Washington reveals a decrease in fish parasites from 1880 to 2019, a period in which their habitat, Puget Sound (the mainland U.S.’s second-largest estuary), experienced significant warming.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the world’s largest and longest record of wildlife parasite numbers, indicates that parasites may be highly susceptible to climate change.

“People generally think that climate change will cause parasites to thrive, that we will see an increase in parasite outbreaks as the world warms,” said lead author Chelsea Wood, a UW associate professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. “For some parasite species that may be true, but parasites depend on hosts, and that makes them particularly vulnerable in a changing world where the fate of hosts is being reshuffled.”

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