Salinity gradient shapes distance decay of similarity among parasite communities in three marine fishes

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Published data were used to compare the distance decay of similarity in parasite communities of three marine fish hosts: Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, the dab Limanda limanda and the flounder Platichthys flesus in two adjacent areas that differ with respect to the strength of a salinity gradient. In the Baltic Sea, which exhibits a strong salinity gradient from its connection with the North Sea in the west to its head in the north-east, parasite communities in all three fish hosts showed a significant decline of similarity with increasing distance. In contrast, among host populations in the North Sea, which is a fully marine environment, there was no such decline or only a weak relationship. The results suggest that environmental gradients like salinity can be strong driving forces behind patterns of distance decay in parasite communities of fishes.

Keywords: Baltic Sea; North Sea; biogeography; parasitism

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Station Sylt, 25992 List, Germany 2: Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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