Seeing into the future of animal/parasite community ecology

Animal and parasite community ecology always seems to lag well behind plant ecology in terms of theoretical developments and understanding.  This is particularly the case for incorporating functional and phylogenetic perspectives to better understand communities, even though these perspectives can provide insights into these communities impossible to achieve with more traditional approaches. Plants communities are obviously much easier to sample and manipulate so this is not surprising, but animal communities can provide, for example, so many extra trophic dimensions and feed-backs that can give us a more complete picture of ecosystem function than just sampling plants alone.  Particularly for poorly understood invertebrate and parasite/pathogen groups.

Anyway, I read the plant journal Vegetation Science and I feel like I’m seeing into the future for some of the directions where animal and parasite community ecology should go. Nearly every paper in this issue:, for example, is important for thinking about animal/parasite community ecology. Not that I think we should replicate plant ideas directly, but use them to help formulate animal/pathogen specific theory and learn off plant community trials and tribulations with things such as trait databases.


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