a1 Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad de Antofagasta, Casilla 170-Antofagasta, Chile
Nested structure is a pattern originally described in island biogeography to characterize how a set of species is distributed among a set of islands. In parasite communities, nestedness has been intensively studied among individual fish from a locality. However, nested patterns among parasite assemblages from different host populations (localities) have scarcely been investigated. We recorded the occurrence of parasites in 9 fish species widely distributed along the southeastern Pacific coast to determine whether the ecto- and endoparasite assemblages of marine fishes show a nested structure associated with host distributional range. Nestedness was tested using Brualdi-Sanderson index of discrepancy (BR); and 5 null models incorporated in a ‘Nestedness’ programme (Ulrich, 2006). The ecto- and endoparasite richness do not show similar patterns of latitudinal gradients among fish hosts, with 33–66% of analysed ectoparasite assemblages, and 25–75% of endoparasite assemblages showing nested structures through the host distributional range. For ectoparasites, species richness gradients and nested structure (when present) might be associated with decreased host densities or could reflect negative environmental conditions in the distributional border of the host species, whereas for endoparasites might be caused by geographical breaks of prey or changes in prey availability (intermediate hosts). The sampled extension of the distributional range of the host species, as well as the lack of specificity of some parasites, could influence the detection of nestedness.
(Received October 21 2008)
(Revised December 15 2008)
(Revised December 29 2008)
(Accepted December 30 2008)
(Online publication February 06 2009)