Geographic turnover in community composition is created and maintained by eco-evolutionary forces that limit the ranges of species. One such force may be antagonistic interactions among hosts and parasites, but its general importance is unknown. Understanding the processes that underpin turnover requires distinguishing the contributions of key abiotic and biotic drivers over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Here, we address these challenges using flexible, nonlinear models to identify the factors that underlie richness (alpha diversity) and turnover (beta diversity) patterns of interacting host and parasite communities in a global biodiversity hot spot. We sampled 18 communities in the Peruvian Andes, encompassing ∼1,350 bird species and ∼400 hemosporidian parasite lineages, and spanning broad ranges of elevation, climate, primary productivity, and species richness. Turnover in both parasite and host communities was most strongly predicted by variation in precipitation, but secondary predictors differed between parasites and hosts, and between contemporary and phylogenetic timescales. Host communities shaped parasite diversity patterns, but there was little evidence for reciprocal effects. The results for parasite communities contradicted the prevailing view that biotic interactions filter communities at local scales while environmental filtering and dispersal barriers shape regional communities. Rather, subtle differences in precipitation had strong, fine-scalemore »
Tracking the assembly of nested parasite communities: using β-diversity to understand variation in parasite richness and composition over time and scale
Community composition is driven by a few key assembly processes: ecological selection, drift and dispersal. Nested parasite communities represent a powerful study system for understanding the relative importance of these processes and their relationship with biological scale. Quantifying β‐diversity across scales and over time additionally offers mechanistic insights into the ecological processes shaping the distributions of parasites and therefore infectious disease. To examine factors driving parasite community composition, we quantified the parasite communities of 959 amphibian hosts representing two species (the Pacific chorus frog, Pseudacris regilla and the California newt, Taricha torosa) sampled over 3 months from 10 ponds in California. Using additive partitioning, we estimated how much of regional parasite richness (γ‐diversity) was composed of within‐host parasite richness (α‐diversity) and turnover (β‐diversity) at three biological scales: across host individuals, across species and across habitat patches (ponds). We also examined how β‐diversity varied across time at each biological scale. Differences among ponds comprised the majority (40%) of regional parasite diversity, followed by differences among host species (23%) and among host individuals (12%). Host species supported parasite communities that were less similar than expected by null models, consistent with ecological selection, although these differences lessened through time, likely due to high dispersal rates more »
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- Journal of animal ecology
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- National Science Foundation
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