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Parasite evolution on islands: Socotra reptiles and their parasites as a model study


Islands biotas have long fascinated biologists studying evolution. Yet studies focuses on parasites have by far lag behind those on free-living organisms. At present we know little about how parasites colonize, spread and adapt to islands, despite the implications this may have from a conservation and epidemiological perspective. Reptiles parasites are interesting systems to tackle such questions. Despite reptiles have been long-considered model organisms for evolutionary studies, little work has been done on their parasites, particularly those living on islands. And we know nothing about the role of these host-parasite systems in the maintenance and transmission of zoonotic diseases. Socotra is one of the most isolated landforms on Earth of continental origin, and a hallmark of biodiversity and endemicity. However, the archipelago remains largely unexplored to science as does the origin and evolution of its endemic fauna. But in investigating parasite evolution we can get further insights into the evolutionary history of the hosts. In this scientific context, this project aims to answer; 1) how host-parasite assemblages of Socotra have evolved, 2) which are the consequences of parasitism for its endemic reptile fauna, 3) which is the role of these reptile-vector pathosystems in the disease ecology of zoonotic agents and disease risk for humans.

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Calle Serrano 117
28006 Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 45 000
Administrative Contact
Alberto Sereno Alvarez (Mr.)