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Maximum local helminth parasite community richness in British freshwater fish: a test of the colonization time hypothesis

  • J.-F. Guégan (a1) and C. R. Kennedy (a1)

The investigation of Price & Clancy (1983), which demonstrated a significant positive correlation between total helminth species number per host species and geographical range of freshwater fish host species in Britain, was re-examined using a different measure of parasite species richness. Re-calculation of the correlations between the two parameters after controlling for the effect of the composition of the list of fish by excluding, on biological and distributional grounds, 2 species of agnathans and 7 species of introduced teleosts, and for the effect of sampling effort by using helminth richness in the richest component community of each fish species rather than check-list data, reveals no significant relationship between helminth species richness and host range. Habitat and an omnivorous host diet now appear more significant determinants of helminth richness than the accumulation of parasites by predation. The findings provide little support for the interpretation of the relationship between helminth species richness and host range in terms of island biogeographic theory, but do support an alternative explanation in terms of the colonization time hypothesis, i.e. that helminth species richness is related to the time since the fish host arrived in Britain.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to Professor C. R. Kennedy.
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