Parasites are rising with the seas

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1477
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6216.1477-e

Extrapolating from the fossil record, the prevalence of aquatic parasites should grow along with the extent of anthropogenic climate change. Huntley et al. quantified the abundance of pits in nearly 4000 mollusk shells from Holocene Pearl River (China) delta sediments. Pitting is caused by trematodes, or flatworms. Trematode prevalence over the course of ∼10,000 years was highest just after the onset of sea-level rise and lowest during maximum flooding. Although a number of variables can change with sea-level rise, parasite prevalence was not statistically explained by changes in salinity or host abundance.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 10.1073/pnas.1416747111 (2014).

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