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To truly understand coral reefs, we must understand their parasites.

Blue fish in the coral reef under water

"Despite the negative connotation of the word parasite, parasites enjoy the world's most successful lifestyle," says Paul Sikkel. "In fact, parasites account for the majority of inhabitants of coral reefs, which are the world's most diverse ecosystems. To truly understand coral reefs and how they will be impacted by environmental change, we must understand their parasites."

Credit: Dan Norton,

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Related story: Parasites: Rulers of the Reef