Presented by Tim Cutajar

PhD Candidate, University of NSW.

Supervisors: Dr Jodi Rowley (AM, UNSW), Prof Alistair Poore (UNSW), A/Prof Kristine Bohmann (University of Copenhagen)

Species do not exist in isolation, but rather in complex association networks. Understanding these networks is important for effective wildlife management. Host-parasite relationships are interesting both from evolutionary and conservation perspectives. Parasites’ deleterious effects shape the evolution of hosts and parasites alike and can contribute to severe population declines. Parasites can also be exploited to survey typically elusive host vertebrates by DNA-barcoding their gut contents, and thus can also have positive impacts on wildlife conservation.

However, there are significant human and livestock biases in parasitological research. Citizen science has been useful in addressing a resulting lack of data for some parasite taxa, but typically those that are sufficiently conspicuous to potential observers that people notice them and share photographs. Little attention is given to taxa that are difficult to notice or identify, such as flies that parasitise frogs. However, large numbers of inconspicuous parasites might be inadvertently present in citizen science datasets in photographs where the more charismatic host is the intended subject of the observation (e.g., a frog). I am working to determine whether such ’secondary data’ can be useful in elucidating the diversity, biogeography, phenology and host species associations of little-known frog-biting flies.