What is the difference between a direct and an indirect life cycle?
Direct and indirect life cycle are terms that are used in reference to parasites that form an important part of an ecosystem. Parasites are small microscopic organisms that live their lives inside another larger living thing, called a host. The host provides them with food and shelter and in most cases the host benefits from the parasites. In this way both the parasite and the host complement each other. There are some parasites that so cause harm to the host and if they are not caught in time, the host will die.
Parasites can be simple and complex. A simple parasite lives its entire life inside a host. They reproduce inside the body. This is an example of a direct life cycle. A complex parasite, though, cannot survive in just one host. This type of parasite needs to have multiple hosts in its life cycle because of their need for reproduction. A complex parasite has an indirect life cycle.
There can be many different forms in the life cycle of a parasite and they depend on how the parasites exploit their hosts. It also depends on whether a parasite needs one or many hosts.
- A parasite the lives its entire life and reproduces in one host has a direct life cycle.
- A parasite that has to infect many hosts in order to reproduce has an indirect life cycle.