Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Valerie J. McKenzie
This work is a broad integration of ecology and parasitology that aims to describe parasite distributions and their biotic and abiotic drivers in two distinct host-parasite systems using a variety of methods. Parasites are an important and often overlooked component of biodiversity with effects from the individual to the community level. In the first study system, amphibians and their macroparasites offer an informative host-parasite system from an ecological perspective, because amphibians can function as both predators and prey in food webs and occupy a variety of microhabitats. In Chapters 2 and 3, I describe patterns of parasitism in amphibians and biotic and abiotic correlates associated with these patterns. Chapter 2 focuses on data from a field study of trematode infections in Woodhouse’s toads (Anaxyrus woodhousii) in eastern Colorado agricultural wetlands. Chapter 3 covers a meta-analysis of 70 years of data on parasite infections in amphibians from all over the world. In the second study system, I examine parasite infections in the context of wild canine conservation and the urban-wildland interface. In Chapter 4, I test new molecular methods for gastronintestinal parasite detection in Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) and coyotes (Canis latrans) from New Mexico and Arizona and in coyotes, foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) from Boulder, Colorado. I conclude that given the complexity of parasite life cycles and the relative lack of data on their ecology, a variety of methods are necessary to effectively study this underappreciated component of biodiversity.
Arellano, Ana Lisette, "Understanding Parasite Ecology at Multiple Scales: Patterns and Drivers from Two Host-Parasite Systems" (2017). Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 100.