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Facultative and obligate parasite communities exhibit different network properties


Network theory is gaining momentum as a descriptive tool in community ecology. Because organisms with the same lifestyle can still exhibit ecological differences, it is crucial to determine the scale at which networks should be described. Here we show that networks of hosts (mammals) and parasites (ectoparasitic gamasid mites) differ when either facultative or obligatory parasites only are considered. More importantly, the structure of these networks is opposed, with obligatory parasites networks being more modular, and facultative parasites networks being more nested. Our results have consequences for the way we define which species to include in ecological networks, which we discuss in the light of community ecology and epidemiology.

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*Corresponding author: Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Canada. E-mail:
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