Despite the ubiquitous nature of parasitism, how parasitism alters the outcome of host species interactions such as competition, mutualism, and predation remain unknown. Using a phylogenetically informed meta-analysis of 154 studies, we examined how the mean and variance in the outcomes of species interactions differed between parasitized and non-parasitized hosts. Overall, parasitism did not significantly affect the mean or variance of host species interaction outcomes, nor did the shared evolutionary histories of hosts and parasites have an effect. Instead, there was considerable variation in outcomes, ranging from strongly detrimental to strongly beneficial for infected hosts. Trophically-transmitted parasites increased the negative effects of predation, parasites increased and decreased the negative effects of interspecific competition for parasitized and non-parasitized heterospecifics, respectively, and parasites had particularly strong negative effects on host species interactions in freshwater and marine habitats, yet were beneficial in terrestrial environments. Our results illuminate the diverse ways in which parasites modify critical linkages in ecological networks, implying that whether the cumulative effects of parasitism are considered detrimental depends not only on the interactions between hosts and their parasites, but also on the many other interactions that hosts experience.
|Date made available||2022|