The secret lives of mites in the skin of our faces

Microscopic mites that live in human pores and mate on our faces at night are becoming such simplified organisms, due to their unusual lifestyles, that they may soon become one with humans, new research has found.

Scientists crack egg forging evolutionary puzzle

As many humans prepare to unwrap their Easter eggs, scientists have solved one of nature's biggest criminal cases, an egg forgery scandal two million years in the making. Their findings suggest that the victims of this fraud ...

Social distancing in nature

Forager ants do it, vampire bats do it, guppies do it, and mandrills do it. Long before humans learned about and started "social distancing due to COVID-19," animals in nature intuitively practiced social distancing when ...

Malaria risk is highest in early evening, study finds

Wide-scale use of insecticide-treated bed nets has led to substantial declines in global incidences of malaria in recent years. As a result, mosquitos have been shifting their biting times to earlier in the evening and later ...

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Parasitism

Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between two different organisms where one organism, the parasite, takes favor from the host, sometimes for a prolonged time. In general, parasites are much smaller than their hosts, show a high degree of specialization for their mode of life, and reproduce more quickly and in greater numbers than their hosts. Classic examples of parasitism include interactions between vertebrate hosts and diverse animals such as tapeworms, flukes, the Plasmodium species, and scabs. Parasitism is differentiated from parasitoidism, a relationship in which the host is always killed by the parasite such as moths, butterflies, ants, flies and others.

The harm and benefit in parasitic interactions concern the biological fitness of the organisms involved. Parasites reduce host fitness in many ways, ranging from general or specialized pathology (such as castration), impairment of secondary sex characteristics, to the modification of host behaviour. Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for food, habitat and dispersal.

Although the concept of parasitism applies unambiguously to many cases in nature, it is best considered part of a continuum of types of interactions between species, rather than an exclusive category. Particular interactions between species may satisfy some but not all parts of the definition. In many cases, it is difficult to demonstrate that the host is harmed. In others, there may be no apparent specialization on the part of the parasite, or the interaction between the organisms may be short-lived. In medicine, only eukaryotic organisms are considered parasites, with the exclusion of bacteria and viruses. Some branches of biology, however, regard members of these groups as parasitic.[citation needed]

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