The vulnerability of animal and human health to parasites under global change
The term ‘global change’ is used to encompass all of the significant drivers of environmental change as experienced by hosts, parasites and parasite managers. The term includes changes in climate and climate variability, atmospheric composition, land use and land cover including deforestation and urbanisation, bio-geochemistry, globalisation of trade and transport, the spread of alien species, human health and technology. A subset of land use issues relates to the management of protective technologies in relation to residues in food and the environment and the emergence of resistance. Another is the question of changing biodiversity of both parasites and their associated natural enemies, and the effects on the host–parasite relationship and on parasite management. A framework for studying impacts of global change is proposed and illustrated with field data, and CLIMEX and simulation modelling of the cattle tick Boophilus microplus in Australia. Parasitology suffers from the perception that the key impacts of global change will be driven by changes at lower trophic levels, with parasitic interactions being treated as secondary effects. This is incorrect because the environment mediates host–parasite interactions as much as it affects parasites directly. Parasitologists need to strive for holistic solutions to the management of animal and human health, within a wider context of overall management of those systems, if they are to make a meaningful contribution to global efforts aimed at coping with global change.