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Alligator Parasitism- the Mysterious Frontier Unfolded: Exploration of the Ecological Interaction between an Archaic Predator (Alligator mississippiensis) and its Parasites

  • Author(s): Tellez, Christina Marisa
  • Advisor(s): Buth, Donald
  • et al.
Abstract

The interaction of a symbiotic relationship between hosts and parasites requires an integration of scientific subjects to fully comprehend the host-parasite dynamic. Such knowledge can be vital in evaluating co-evolution, parasite niche radiation, host immunology, and how ecosystem alterations affect the host-parasite dynamic, among other facets of host life history traits. Although parasites of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) have been recorded throughout their range, this interaction has not been thoroughly examined. It is significant to understand the alligator-parasite interaction in order to predict how this paradigm will shift with increase ecological alterations. Because parasites are significant mediators in host population dynamics and trophic energy flow, examining host-parasitism of a keystone predator can provide beneficial information for ensuring the preservation of biodiversity within its habitat. The following research intends to provide knowledge on an unknown host-parasite system, and examine how environmental perturbations effect parasitism in a long-lived reptilian predator through a cross-disciplinary approach incorporating eco-parasitology, ecology, eco-toxicology, and ecological niche modeling in alligators and its metazoan parasites.

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