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Research GELIFES

David Thieltges appointed honorary professor Marine Parasite Ecology

30 October 2020
David Thieltges
David Thieltges

David Thieltges has been appointed honorary professor of Marine Parasite Ecology at the University of Groningen. As an ecologist, David Thieltges (NIOZ and UG), has a long track record of studying the role of parasites in ecosystems. He is looking forward to strengthen research on the interactions between parasites, their hosts and the environment. Thieltges: ‘While ignored by ecologists for a long time, the ecological importance of parasites and diseases is now increasingly recognised and has led to the emergence of parasite and disease ecology as new disciplines.’

Parasites’ hidden roles

Rhizocephalan parasite Sacculina carcini infecting shorecrabs (photo: Hans Witte, NIOZ)
Rhizocephalan parasite Sacculina carcini infecting shorecrabs (photo: Hans Witte, NIOZ)

The opportunity of research-led teaching, should enable a new generation of students and upcoming researchers to unravel the hidden but often pivotal ecological roles of parasites and pathogens in marine ecosystems. Thieltges: ‘There are a multitude of direct effects of parasites on infected hosts that indirectly affect local communities and food webs as well. The distribution and abundance of parasites, in turn, is affected by the distribution of hosts and other ambient biota, leading to intricate relationships between biodiversity and disease risk.’

Species invasions

Invasive new shell parasite Polydora websteri (photo: Dagmar Lackschewitz)
Invasive new shell parasite Polydora websteri (photo: Dagmar Lackschewitz)

David Thieltges also sees new parasites entering marine ecosystems and influences on ecosystems due to climate change. Changing environments in the course of climate warming and species invasions are likely to affect both the distribution and the effects of parasites and diseases, which according to Thieltges could have far-reaching repercussions for conservation and management. With the appointment, he complements the existing diverse marine research activities at the UG on the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems.

Last modified:29 October 2020 7.02 p.m.

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