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Nested patterns in parasite component communities of a marine fish along its latitudinal range on the Pacific coast of South America

  • M. T. GONZÁLEZ (a1) and R. POULIN (a2)

A major goal of community ecology is to identify and explain non-random patterns of species composition. To date, the search for nested patterns in parasite component communities of the same fish host species has not been attempted, despite the fact that this higher hierarchical level is more relevant to nestedness analyses. The aims of this study are first, to determine the structure of component communities – considering ectoparasites and endoparasites separately – of a marine fish (Sebastes capensis) with an extended geographical distribution along the southeastern Pacific and, second, to explain these patterns by taking into account the extrinsic factors associated with the distribution of this host fish. From April to September 2003 and from April to August 2004, 537 fish were captured from different latitudes along the southeastern Pacific. The component communities of both ectoparasites and endoparasites of this fish host showed significant nested subset patterns. However, the type of nestedness pattern differed between ectoparasites and endoparasites. Ectoparasite component communities of S. capensis show higher species richness between latitude 30°S and 40°S, whereas endoparasite component communities show higher species richness between 40°S and 52°S. A nested pattern in ectoparasite component communities of S. capensis result from the gradual loss of some ectoparasites species southward and northward of the central part of their latitudinal distribution, which can be explained by the interaction of S. capensis with other host fish species from the central Chilean coast. Nestedness in endoparasite component communities of S. capensis is produced by the gains and losses of species toward the south of their latitudinal distribution, caused by changes in their prey-items (intermediate hosts) along their latitudinal distributional range.

Corresponding author
Instituto de Ecología y Evolución, Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567-Valdivia, Chile. Tel: +56 63 221486. Fax: +56 63 221344. E-mail:
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