Parasitology

Parasitology Express

Facultative and obligate parasite communities exhibit different network properties

TIMOTHÉE POISOTa1a2 c1, MICHAL STANKOa3a4, DANA MIKLISOVÁa3 and SERGE MORANDa5

a1 Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Canada

a2 Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science, McGill University, Montréal, Canada

a3 Institute of Parasitology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Košice, Slovakia

a4 Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia

a5 Institut des Sciences de l'Évolution, Université Montpellier 2, Montpellier, France

SUMMARY

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.

(Received February 03 2013)

(Revised March 27 2013)

(Accepted April 24 2013)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Canada. E-mail: timothee_poisot@uqar.ca

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