Foliar fungal parasites provide a valuable model system for studying parasite community structure. First, they are tractable for observation. They are easily distinguished and enumerated in the field by the unaided eye, rather than requiring lab assay. Thus, each host can be surveyed quickly, reliably, and
repeatedly. Second, they are tractable for experimental manipulations that would be impractical or unethical with most parasites of vertebrate hosts. While they are sensitive to environmental variation, this does not prevent them from responding to small-scale manipulations of the host community.
Finally, while the microbiome of vertebrates is dominated by bacteria, the microbiome within leaves is dominated by fungi, making it a useful model for microbiome biology.