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Patterns and processes influencing helminth parasites of Arctic coastal communities during climate change

  • K.V. Galaktionov (a1) (a2)


This review analyses the scarce available data on biodiversity and transmission of helminths in Arctic coastal ecosystems and the potential impact of climate changes on them. The focus is on the helminths of seabirds, dominant parasites in coastal ecosystems. Their fauna in the Arctic is depauperate because of the lack of suitable intermediate hosts and unfavourable conditions for species with free-living larvae. An increasing proportion of crustaceans in the diet of Arctic seabirds would result in a higher infection intensity of cestodes and acanthocephalans, and may also promote the infection of seabirds with non-specific helminths. In this way, the latter may find favourable conditions for colonization of new hosts. Climate changes may alter the composition of the helminth fauna, their infection levels in hosts and ways of transmission in coastal communities. Immigration of boreal invertebrates and fish into Arctic seas may allow the circulation of helminths using them as intermediate hosts. Changing migratory routes of animals would alter the distribution of their parasites, facilitating, in particular, their trans-Arctic transfer. Prolongation of the seasonal ‘transmission window’ may increase the parasitic load on host populations. Changes in Arctic marine food webs would have an overriding influence on the helminths’ circulation. This process may be influenced by the predicted decreased of salinity in Arctic seas, increased storm activity, coastal erosion, ocean acidification, decline of Arctic ice, etc. Greater parasitological research efforts are needed to assess the influence of factors related to Arctic climate change on the transmission of helminths.

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