Healthy parasites are one sign of a healthy ecosystem, but there’s a lot more to them than that.

caterpillar

Parasite. To most people, the very word is cause for fear or disgust — which is a shame, because most parasites don’t actually harm their hosts. In fact their very existence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, as I discussed on a recent segment of the Green Divas podcast. We also talked about the values some parasites provide, what we can learn from them, and what we lose when they go extinct.

Listen in, below:

For more, check out the articles mentioned in this interview:

When This Rat Went Extinct, So Did a Flea

Parasite Lost: Did Our Taste for Seafood Just Cause an Extinction?

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John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.