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Linking ecology with parasite diversity in Neotropical fishes

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A comparative analysis was performed to seek large-scale patterns in the relationships between a set of fish species traits (body size, type of environment, trophic level, schooling behaviour, depth range, mean habitat temperature, geographical range, ability to enter brackish waters and capability of migration) and the diversity of their metazoan parasite assemblages among 651 Neotropical fish species. Two measurements of parasite diversity are used: the species richness and the taxonomic distinctness of a fish’s parasite assemblage, including all metazoan parasites, ectoparasites only, or endoparasites only. The results showed that, on this scale, the average taxonomic distinctness of parasite assemblages was clearly more sensitive to the influence of host traits than parasite species richness. Differences in the taxonomic diversification of the parasite assemblages of different fish species were mainly related to the fish’s environment (higher values in benthic–demersal species), trophic level (positive correlation with increasing level), temperature (positive correlation with temperature in marine ectoparasites, negative in endoparasites; positive for all groups of parasites in freshwater fishes) and oceanic distribution (higher values in fish species from the Pacific Ocean than those of the Atlantic). The results suggest that, among Neotropical fish species, only certain key host traits have influenced the processes causing the taxonomic diversification of parasite assemblages.
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Keywords: Neotropical fishes; host phylogeny; oceanic distribution; taxonomic distinctness; temperature; trophic level

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Departamento de Parasitologia Animal, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Caixa Postal 74.508, CEP 23851-970, Serop├ędica, RJ, Brazil

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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