Copepods as parasites

We are investigating how parasitic copepods have evolved and continue to adapt to new hosts.

Many copepod species have independently adapted to a parasitic way of life using a wide range of animals as hosts. How patterns of new host use develop in copepods is largely unknown.

We are researching:

  • host use patterns, by measuring and comparing the range of hosts used by different parasite groups
  • examples of major host-switching events, where different groups are suddenly colonised
  • the invasion of alien parasites through the Suez Canal, switching from Red Sea to Mediterranean fish species
  • the diversity of parasites in Northern European marine waters, including the description of many new species and genera of parasites from polychaete and molluscan hosts in UK waters

Glossary

Host switching
When a parasite species moves to a host that it is not normally associated with. For example when a group of fish parasites suddenly gives rise to a lineage of species that uses a completely different host, such as an echinoderm.