Wolves infected with a common parasite are more likely than uninfected animals to lead a pack, according to an analysis of more than 200 North American wolves1. Infected animals are also more likely to leave their home packs and strike out on their own.
The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, makes its hosts bold — a mechanism that increases its survival.
Fascinating. The scientists were stunned by the findings.
For Meyer, the moral of the story is that parasites can be major players in ecosystems. “Parasites might have a much larger role than anyone generally gives them credit for,” he says.