• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    .@UCSBMensSoccer puts up a fight vs. No. 2 Clemson, but falls 3-2 in Sweet 16. RECAP >>> https://t.co/oqnHQnJzTn https://t.co/vgP5NNdQpL
    8 hours 16 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    UCSB Falls at Arizona State on Last Second Shot, 70-68 https://t.co/J0qqsxzgGY
    9 hours 13 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    And that'll do it. They battled valiantly, but @UCSBMensSoccer's season comes to and w/ a 3-2 Sweet 16 loss at Clemson. Great season guys!
    10 hours 32 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    2 mins left here, rain is really pouring now. C'mon Gauchos!
    10 hours 34 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Goal for Clemson. Tic-tac-toe passing leads to a tap-in goal for Kyle Murphy. 3-2 now w/ 11 mins to go #LetsGoGauchos
    10 hours 45 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    GOALLLLLLLL! Sloppy back pass from Clemson to the keeper, Kevin Feucht pounces on it and taps into an empty net. 2-2 w/ 20 mins left to go.
    10 hours 55 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Clemson goes up 2-1 on a goal by Diego Campos. 22 mins left for UCSB to equalize.
    10 hours 58 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    63' - Yellow card for Clemson, #6 Paul Clowes
    11 hours 5 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    62' - Nice build up for UCSB leads to a shot from the right side from Ismail Jome, but he hits the sidenetting.
    11 hours 5 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Tactical foul leading to the YC for Clemson leads to a short-side opportunity for Randy Mendoza, but his shot stays wide left.
    11 hours 12 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    58' - Yellow card for Clemson, #11 Aaron Jones
    11 hours 13 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    51' - Jome sends one to the far post from inside the 18, but his curler goes just wide.
    11 hours 20 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Second half for @UCSBMensSoccer starting now, tied w/ No. 2 Clemson 1-1! Catch the end of the game here: https://t.co/R9FRG70Get
    11 hours 26 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Halftime stats for UCSB/Clemson (tied 1-1) Shots: 8/5 Shots on Goal: 3/4 Corners: 3/2 Fouls: 13/8 Yellow cards: 1/0
    11 hours 35 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Clemson equalizes late in the first half through an Aaron Jones strike. It's 1-1 heading into halftime.
    11 hours 42 min ago

Simple Math may Solve Longstanding Problem of Parasite Energetics

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA


Hymenolepsis diminuta, more commonly known as the rat tapeworm

Hymenolepsis diminuta, more commonly known as the rat tapeworm

Photo Credit: 

Todd Huspeni

Feeling faint from the flu? Is your cold causing you to collapse? Your infection is the most likely cause, and, according to a new study by UC Santa Barbara research scientist Ryan Hechinger, it may be possible to know just how much energy your bugs are taking from you. His findings are published in a recent issue of The American Naturalist.

"When we get sick –– particularly with infectious agents –– we often talk about having our ‘energy drained,' or of ‘having low energy,'" said Hechinger, an associate research biologist at UCSB's Marine Science Institute and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. "This common language highlights that energy may provide a useful currency to investigate how infectious agents, or parasites, impact their hosts."

Unfortunately, he added, there has been little research on the energetics of parasites and their hosts, largely because scientists have been stymied by the difficulty of measuring the energetics of parasites living inside their hosts.

However, it may be possible to predict how much energy parasites drain from their hosts, according to Hechinger, simply by modifying equations from the metabolic theory of ecology –– a theory that describes the relationships between metabolic rates, body temperatures, and sizes of organisms. Typically applied to animals and plants living in ecosystems, Hechinger said these equations could be used for parasites living in host bodies. Further, because a host's body is like an ecosystem for its parasites, applying the metabolic theory of ecology can provide unique ways to better understand the ecology of animals in larger ecosystems.

"We pretty much only need information on the host and parasite body sizes and temperatures –– which is easy information to get –– and we're good to go," Hechinger said. "With that info, we can go straight to energetics because we can estimate parasite and host metabolic rates –– how many calories they burn."

Initial tests supported the new theory. Hechinger analyzed data for parasitic worms in rats, including tapeworms, and for parasitic round worms infecting a wide range of mammal species. "The most important finding might be that there is a limit to how many worms you can cram into a host, and that limit is best reflected, not by the space available inside the host or by parasite biomass, but by host and parasite metabolic rates –– by energy," he said.

Energy as a currency is important, and, according to Hechinger, a more universal currency to describe parasitism than is the typical use of numbers. Using energy and the new equations might uncover universal rules about the nature of parasitism. "It may help us to not only measure, but also predict the influence of parasites in hosts and even entire ecosystems," Hechinger said. "This is especially important because ecology is increasingly documenting that parasites are major players in ecosystems –– just as important as predators and competitors."

"These equations may be particularly helpful when we deal with the real, complicated world where many types of parasites live within hosts, when it would be impossible, for instance, to directly measure the metabolic rates of each species," he said.

Ecological Parasitology


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