|Parasites as prey|In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS). John Wiley & Sons: Basingstoke. ISSN 1476-9506, meer
parasites; food web; trophic transmission; predation; hyperparasitism; biological control; ectoparasites
Parasites are usually considered to use their hosts as a resource for energy. However, there is increasing awareness that parasites can also become a resource themselves and serve as prey for other organisms. Here we describe various types of predation in which parasites act as prey for other organisms: (1) predation of nonhosts on infected hosts (concomitant predation), (2) predation on free‐living parasite life cycle stages, (3) predation on ectoparasites in form of grooming or cleaning and (4) predation or hyperparasitism by other parasites. In many cases, these types of predation significantly reduce the numbers of parasites and thus affect parasite population dynamics. In contrast, predation on parasites is often beneficial for the hosts as they are released from parasite burden. Finally, when parasites act as prey they may contribute to the nonhost predator's diet, in some cases constituting a significant proportion of energy intake.