The effects of parasites on food web structure and dynamics: New ways to improve accuracy and ecological realism
To investigate new ways to include parasites within food web models and investigate the influence that parasite species have on the structure, dynamics, and function of a commercially valuable marine food web of the west coast of Scotland (wcoS).
- To identify the main metazoan parasite species from two to four commercially valuable marine fish species involved in the wcoS food web (literature review and fish dissections).
- To find new ways include the identified parasite species within topological, energetic, and functional food web models.
- To investigate which food web model type best represents parasitic interactions.
- To compare the changes in food web metrics with and without the inclusion of parasites.
- To compare the effect of generalist parasites to specialist parasites on food web metrics.
- To investigate whether the use of eDNA metabarcoding could be used to reduce dissections for parasite identification in future studies.