Parasites, and the diseases they cause, are important from an ecological and evolutionary perspective because they can negatively affect host fitness and can regulate host populations. Consequently, conservation biology has long recognized the vital role that parasites can play in the process of species endangerment and recovery. However, we are only beginning to understand how deeply parasites are embedded in ecological systems, and there is a growing recognition of the important ways in which parasites affect ecosystem structure and function. Thus, there is an urgent need to revisit how parasites are viewed from a conservation perspective and broaden the role that disease ecology plays in conservation-related research and outcomes. This review broadly focusses on the role that disease ecology can play in biological conservation. Our review specifically emphasizes on how the integration of tools and analytical approachesassociated with both disease and molecular ecology can be leveraged to aid conservation biology. Our review first concentrates on diseasemediatedextinctions and wildlife epidemics. We then focus on elucidating how host–parasite interactions has improved our understanding of the eco-evolutionary dynamics affecting hosts at the individual, population, community and ecosystem scales. We believe that the role of parasites as drivers and indicators of ecosystem health is especially an exciting area of research that has the potential to fundamentally alter our view of parasites and their role in biological conservation. The review concludes with a broad overview of the current and potential applications of modern genomic tools in disease ecology to aid biological conservation.
Volume 99, 2020
Continuous Article Publishing mode
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