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Something for Everyone: A Review of "The Biology and Identification of the Coccidia (Apicomplexa) of Carnivores of the World".

Something for Everyone: A Review of "The Biology and Identification of the Coccidia (Apicomplexa) of Carnivores of the World". Donald W. Duszynski, Jana Kvicerova, and R. Scott Seville. Academic Press, 1 Edition. San Diego. California. $115.96, pp.315, ISBN-10: 0128113499. 2018

The Biology and Identification of the Coccidia (Apicomplexa) of Carnivores of the World--by authors Donald W. Duszynski, Jana Kvicerova, and R. Scolt Seville--represents an ambitious new reference compendium on the ecology, pathology, and management of Conoidasida in mammals of the order Carnivora. Although this book focuses on the relatively-narrow subject of what is effectively a single class of parasites in a single order of mammals, the importance of these hosts and the impacts that these ubiquitous parasites have on them make this work of much broader concern. It may be argued that few groups of mammals deserve more attention than carnivores, which include: common domestic companion animals like cats and dogs; as well as, several economically important (Trapezov, 2014; Wilen, 2018) animals related to the fur trade, such as foxes, sables, mink, and seals; several charismatic zoo animals (Carr, 2014), ranging from bears to big cats, to meercats, to walruses; and many animals of immediate conservation concern (Ripple et al, 2014), such as pandas, polar bears, and tigers. Carnivores also include many common animals of the urban Anthropocene (Bateman and Fleming, 2012), such as coyotes, raccoons and skunks, that have adapted to life close to humans and represent potential sources of zoonotic disease risk and cross-transmission with domestic animals (Han et al, 2016). This latter point is particularly important as coccidians and their relatives can infect a wide range of unrelated hosts and use non-carnivores as intermediate or parentenic hosts. As such, many of the organisms described in this book also infect and cause serious pathology in humans, rodents, odd- and even-toed ungulates, and domestic fowl. This broad range of potential infection helps make coccidia and Cryptosporidium spp. among the most common and successful parasites of vertebrates (Fayer, 2010; Innes, 2010). Together, the omnipresence of focal parasites and the multifactored importance of focal hosts will make this work of interest to a wide audience of professional readers. Despite this generalist appeal, the primary perspective of this work is taxonomic. Coccidia (and their close relatives) have gone through a series of major taxonomic reclassifications that began in the late 1970s and has continued until relatively recently (Frenkel, 1977; Barta et al, 2005; Fayer, 2010; Adl et al., 2012). This book provides an important and opportune road map for these reclassifications, and will prove invaluable to anyone interested in coccidian taxonomy in its own right, as well as teachers, veterinarians and wildlife biologists who wish to integrate these taxonomic updates into their diagnostic repertoires and pedagogy.

This work goes above and beyond to cover its subject material comprehensively. Despite the seemingly narrow focus of the title, the book extends beyond the currently classified coccidians by including the Cryptosporiidae, which were historically classified as coccidians, but are no longer (Adl et al., 2012). In this respect, the book effectively covers all Conoidasida known to infect carnivores as either definitive, parentenic, or intermediate hosts. Basic, but detailed, information on host evolution and ecology is also provided in a specific chapter and throughout the book to provide a rich ecological and evolutionary context. Entries are organized into chapters based on broader parasite taxonomy as well as host taxonomy, either at the level of chapters (as in the case of Eimeriidae), or within chapters (for most other groups of Conoidasida). The book also covers countless unnamed and purported species within the Conoidasida of carnivores. An entire chapter is dedicated to spedes inquirendae within the coccidia of carnivores that can serve as a solid springboard for taxonomist who are interested in exploring undescribed coccidian diversity. Chapters on described species also include a number of entries on purported or partially described species in which the authors provide a thorough description of the evidence for and against these classifications. In addition, entries also include scientific and colloquial synonyms and depreciated and dubious species descriptions, and taxonomic assignments are cross-referenced with better-recognized alternative assignments to provide a detailed map to resolve taxonomic changes and disputes encountered in historic literature. This is particularly helpful for the presentation of coccidian parasites of carnivores, as many Isospora-like parasites in this group have been reassigned from the genus Isospora, within the Eimeriidae, to the genus Cystoisospora, within the family Sarcocystidae (Frenkel, 1977; Barta et al., 2005). The authors also include many entries on what they suggest to be incidental Conoidasida species that are simply passing through carnivores following ingestion of infected or contaminated food sources. This information will make the book useful for identifying psuedoparasites of carnivores and should help to ensure that the errors of previous researchers are not repeated. Although the book lacks dichotomous keys, it does contain reproductions of original line drawings and micrographs of coccidia whenever possible to support diagnostic and taxonomic work. Finally, the book provides detailed material on the chemotherapeutic control of parasites and other practices for preventing their spread by including a chapter on these subjects and an appendix complete with recommended drugs, dosages, and citations. All of this information is supported by an inclusive glossary to ensure readability across fields, making this book useful for diagnostic, treatment, management and basic research applications relating to coccidia and Crytosporidiiadae.

While this book can be highly specific in some areas, its authors do an excellent job of presenting their subject matter in a broader theoretical context. Details on the ecology and evolution of hosts are used to tie findings of parasite distributions and patterns of host usage into broader theories on patterns of parasite transmission, speciation, and host switching. Much care is given to discuss the requirements of described species, genera and higher taxonomic classifications. Classical parasitologists and taxonomists will be pleased as the authors champion and effectively support a classic phenotypic character-based approach to these questions. They also do a magnificent job of highlighting the need for standardized non-morphological characters to be used in new descriptions for coccidia, such as location and liming of sporulation, host-specificity, length of prepatent and patent periods, and resulting pathology of infection with various life stages, and include summaries of how these data have contributed to the recognition or rejection of each taxon within its representative entry. In fact, the often-extreme detail of these commentaries constitutes one of the more strikingly aspects of this book. Where applicable, full histories of the controversies surrounding each proposed taxon are presented along with the presence or absence of experiments and data that have fueled them and/or allowed them to be resolved. This information can in some cases drastically lengthen individual entries and increase the time that it takes to find specific information of interest; however, the use of clear and organized subject headings for specific aspects of the biology of each parasite species more than mitigates this problem in most chapters. While these reviews can be cumbersome, they will certainly provide crucial support for future taxonomic work on these parasites. They also demonstrate the meticulous work and intricate research that have contributed to our knowledge of these parasites. Moreover, the authors demonstrate the need for substantially more work of this nature. Parasites have been suggested to account for between 5% (Costello, 2016) and ~65% (Poulin, 2014) of total eukaryotic diversity, making estimates of eukaryotic diversity, and our subsequent understanding of parasitism and eukaryotic life, highly contingent upon knowing the actual richness of parasite species (Wilcox and Holloclier, 2018). This book's itemized inclusion of all that remains unknown and unexplored among Conoidasida of carnivores, despite the ubiquity of these parasites and prominence these hosts, serves to underscore the need for a renewed focus on parasite taxonomy and serves as a useful guide for the next generation of parasitologists to perform this work.


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Barta, J.R., M.D. Schrenzel, R. Carreno, and B.A. Rideout. 2005. The genus Atoxoplasma (Garnham, 1950) as a junior objective synonym of the genus Isospora (Schneider, 1881) species infecting birds and resurrection of Cystoisospora (Frenkel, 1977) as the correct genus for Isospora species infecting mammals. J. Parasitol, 91(3):726-727.

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Ripple, W.J., J.A. Estes, R.L. Beschta, C.C. Wilmers, E.G. Ritchie, M. Hebblewhite, J. Berger, B. Elmhagen, M. Letnic, M.P. Nelson, and O.J. Schmitz. 2014. Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores. Science, 343(6167):1241484.

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JUSTIN JON SCHADER WILCOX, Experimental Research Building, New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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Author:Wilcox, Justin Jon Schader
Publication:The American Midland Naturalist
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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