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Range size patterns in European freshwater trematodes

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While patterns in geographic range sizes in free‐living species have received much attention, little is known on the corresponding patterns in parasites. For the first time, we report on patterns in geographic range sizes and dimensions of endoparasites, using published species lists of freshwater trematodes in 25 biogeographical regions of Europe. In general, the range sizes of trematodes showed a typical hollow curve frequency distribution, with most species having small ranges. Contrary to expectations, there were no differences in range sizes among trematodes using hosts with high (birds) and limited dispersal capacity (e.g. fish). This suggests that the well known importance of host dispersal capacity for parasite dispersal at small spatial scales is overridden by other factors on larger scales. Regression analyses and Rohde plots showed that the relationship between the latitudinal centre and trematode range size was hump‐shaped in all host groups except for reptiles, for which it was linear. Most of the variation fell within the expectations given by null models, suggesting that the patterns mainly result from the geographic properties of the European continent and the biogeographical regions. Finally, trematode ranges tended to stretch more in east‐west than in north‐south directions, indicating dispersal barrier effects for parasite faunas, probably resulting from the geographical idiosyncrasies of the European continent.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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