Predictions of primate-parasite coextinction.

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Future biodiversity loss threatens the integrity of complex ecological associations, including among hosts and parasites. Almost half of primate species are threatened with extinction, and the loss of threatened hosts could negatively impact parasite associations and ecosystem functions. If endangered hosts are highly connected in host-parasite networks, then future host extinctions will also drive parasite extinctions, destabilizing ecological networks. If threatened hosts are not highly connected, however, then network structure should not be greatly affected by the loss of threatened hosts. Networks with high connectance, modularity, nestedness and robustness are more resilient to perturbations such as the loss of interactions than sparse, nonmodular and non-nested networks. We analysed the interaction network involving 213 primates and 763 parasites and removed threatened primates (114 species) to simulate the effects of extinction. Our analyses revealed that connections to 23% of primate parasites (176 species) may be lost if threatened primates go extinct. In addition, measures of network structure were affected, but in varying ways because threatened hosts have fewer parasite interactions than non-threatened hosts. These results reveal that host extinctions will perturb the host-parasite network and potentially lead to secondary extinctions of parasites. The ecological consequences of these extinctions remain unclear. This article is part of the theme issue 'Infectious disease macroecology: parasite diversity and dynamics across the globe'.





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Herrera, James P, James Moody and Charles L Nunn (2021). Predictions of primate-parasite coextinction. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 376(1837). p. 20200355. 10.1098/rstb.2020.0355 Retrieved from

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James Moody

Professor in the Department of Sociology

James Moody is the Robert O. Keohane professor of sociology at Duke University. He has published extensively in the field of social networks, methods, and social theory. His work has focused theoretically on the network foundations of social cohesion and diffusion, with a particular emphasis on building tools and methods for understanding dynamic social networks. He has used network models to help understand school racial segregation, adolescent health, disease spread, economic development, and the development of scientific disciplines. Moody's work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and has appeared in top social science, health and medical journals. He is winner of INSNA's (International Network for Social Network Analysis) Freeman Award for scholarly contributions to network analysis, founding director of the Duke Network Analysis Center and editor of the on-line Journal of Social Structure.


Charles L Nunn

Gosnell Family Professor in Global Health

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