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Temporal and spatial patterns of nestedness in eel macroparasite communities

  • J. NORTON (a1) (a2), J. W. LEWIS (a1) and D. ROLLINSON (a2)

A nested (non-random) species composition was observed among the intestinal macroparasite communities of European eels, Anguilla anguilla. Nestedness was observed in 8 out of 10 component community samples from the rivers Thames and Test between April 2000 and October 2001. Parasite component communities consisted of mainly generalist and specialist, but also accidental species, and included acanthocephalans, cestodes, nematodes and digeneans. Nestedness was observed when component population size differed markedly between all or most parasite species, but not when the majority of species present was similarly abundant. Nestedness could not be explained in terms of host weight, log normal distribution of parasite species, or mean intensity of infection. It is proposed that nestedness occurred as a result of a sufficiently graded abundance between parasite species, which was established early in the year by colonization processes.

Corresponding author
Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratories, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK. Tel: +44(0) 207 942 5566. Fax: +44(0) 207 942 5054. E-mail:
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