Dr. Christopher B. Boyko, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, and Dr. Jason D. Williams, Professor of Biology at Hofstra University, are hosting a symposium entitled Parasites and Pests in Motion: Biology, Biodiversity and Climate Change at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) in Portland, Oregon on January 4th, 2016. This symposium is supported by funds from the National Science Foundation, SICB and The Crustacean Society.
Climate change is now recognized as one of the most important alterations to ecosystems. Current data suggests that temperature-induced environmental changes will likely increase over time, impacting global distributions of species. Climate change may expose hosts to infestation in areas where they had previously been free from natural enemies, including parasites, pathogens, and predators. Some of these natural enemies are especially of interest to humans, as they occur in large numbers as pests with commercial, ecological and medical impacts. Climate change may cause parasites, including those of agricultural and aquacultural importance, to undergo temperature-induced habitat alterations that have the potential to cause significant harm through their spread. This symposium will foster a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on diverse host/parasite relationships, including modeling and prediction of how their distributions may change in the future. This symposium brings together researchers working on a wide variety of natural enemies to exchange knowledge on how aspects of global climate change (such as warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and altered precipitation) may alter the distribution and ecology of these organisms and their hosts. Ecologists have increasingly stressed the importance of parasites in controlling host populations. Thus, understanding how climate change impacts the distributions and aspects of hosts/parasite relationships has important implications and when pests and pathogens are included, the magnitude of these impacts is staggering. Many of these organisms have direct human impacts such in areas such as: medical (parasites of humans, disease vectors), veterinary (parasites of pets, livestock), and food safety (parasites, pathogens and pests in agriculture, aquaculture, livestock).