Pets and Parasites - The Role of Nature
It is now recognized that parasitism as a feeding strategy is a natural force in nature, much like predation or herbivory. Nevertheless, we still think of parasites in terms of the diseases they cause in humans, in our pets and in our domestic animals. Over the last decade, there have been many studies putting parasites into the context of community effects in ecosystems, and these new ideas have altered our thinking on the treatment of parasites. This course will focus on parasites of our pets and wildlife. There will be field trips to domestic animal farms, and also to ponds and streams to collect parasites. Samples will be returned to hands-on labs where the students will learn standard parasitological techniques in worm recovery and identification, including necropsies and fecal analyses. Short mini-lectures will be used to elucidate new ideas on parasites in the context of natural systems and their basic biology.