Jul 18, 2017

Surges in trematode prevalence linked to centennial-scale flooding events in the Adriatic

Daniele Scarponi, Michele Azzarone, Michał Kowalewski, John Warren Huntley
Scientific Reports
  • States that the forecasts of increasing global temperature and sea level rise have led to concern about the response of parasites to anthropogenic climate change
  • States that, whereas ecological studies of parasite response to environmental shifts are necessarily limited to short time scales, the fossil record can potentially provide a quantitative archive of long-term ecological responses to past climate transitions
  • Documents multi-centennial scale changes in prevalence of trematodes infesting the bivalve host Abra segmentum through multiple sea-level fluctuations preserved in brackish Holocene deposits of the Po Plain, Italy
  • Finds that prevalence values were significantly elevated (p < 0.01) in samples associated with flooding surfaces, yet the temporal trends of parasite prevalence and host shell length cannot be explained by Waltherian facies change, host availability, salinity, diversity, turnover, or community structure
  • Observed surges in parasite prevalence during past flooding events indicate that the ongoing global warming and sea-level rise will lead to significant intensification of trematode parasitism, suppressed fecundity of common benthic organisms, and negative impacts on marine ecosystems, ecosystem services, and, eventually, to human well-being