Parasite Design and Manipulation

Friday April 18, 2008 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Mark Forbes

Topic: Parasite Design and Manipulation


Parasites, broadly defined, are thought to account for more than 50% of living organisms. What makes their various ways of living so successful? We tend to think mostly from the viewpoint of hosts, as history has taught us to be wary of things like malaria and plague. In this talk, I explore parasite design, using ‘selectionist thinking’. I focus on examples of parasite manipulation or alteration of host behaviour, and parasite distortion of offspring sex ratios, using model invertebrates. I then ask what factors influence the range of host species used by parasites. I provide examples from birds and dragonflies to demonstrate that the geographic range of parasites relates to host species range, and that relative abundance of host species relates to effective parasitism. Such studies have implications for problems that plague us from understanding factors important in disease transmission, to helping protect species of economic or environmental value.

Speaker’s Profile:

Mark Forbes is Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs in the Faculty of Science and Carleton. He has received many awards, both for his research and for his teaching. He was renewed as a Canada Research Chair in Ecological Parasitiology/Wildlife Health at Carleton in 2007 and has published over 100 research papers in peer-adjudicated journals. His Web Site gives much more information about our Almonte Lecturer:

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