A worrying new study claims that we could lose a third of parasite species by 2070, and that could be a big problem for our planet.
We reported recently on an alarming study from scientists at the University of California that found that a third of parasites could be wiped out on Earth by 2070. And while that may seem like reason to cheer, as no one likes ticks, fleas, tapeworms, lice, and other despicable creatures, there’s a few very important reasons why this development is very bad for the planet.
Parasites actually play a very important role in ecosystems, keeping wildlife populations under control and moving energy throughout the food chain. They’re also an indicator that scientists use to determine if an ecosystem is healthy, as parasites live complex life cycles that depend on host species. Signs of parasites can indicate a stable ecosystem with healthy animal diversity.
But that’s not an easy thing to communicate to the public. With parasites facing significant risk over the coming decades, it’s yet another sign why action needs to be taken now on climate change and global warming, scientists say, as the disruption to ecosystems could be extreme.
“The analysis determined that parasites are even more threatened than the animal hosts they rely on,” reads the statement from the Smithsonian. “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 about 10 percent. …
“Parasites need to be included in conversations about conservation, and this study highlights their delicate position in complex ecosystems, the scientists say. …. Much of conservation biology focuses on single species, but it is important to keep in mind the goal of conserving ecosystems as a whole.”