Parasites: The Inside Story

Princeton Univ. Nov. 2022. 232p. ISBN 9780691206875. $29.95. SCI
In this book, University of Nebraska biologists Gardner and Judy Diamond and parasitologist Gabor Racz look at the critical ecosystem role played by parasites. The authors start by explaining the conditions of a parasitic relationship, then delve into parasites and illnesses that many readers may already know of: nematodes; hookworms; sickle cell disease; onchocerciasis, sometimes called African River Blindness. Tapeworms, among the oldest and best-documented parasites, occupy a large portion of this book. The lesser-known flatworms and thorny-headed worms round out this exploration, with an overall focus on how parasites evolve in step with their hosts, which is called cospeciation. In terms of geography, the Mongolian grasslands are an area of special interest, as are islands (Hawai‘i; Galapagos), as their geographical isolation offers unique insights into the evolution of parasites and their behavior. The conclusion focuses on the Stockholm Paradigm, which asserts that the intersection of people, parasites, livestock, crops, insects, and wildlife is one to watch, especially as global warming impacts the climate. The back of the book which details all of the parasites mentioned, with an illustration, life cycle information, hosts, and relevant details.
VERDICT A well-organized, -researched, and -illustrated overview of the parasitic world.
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