- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Tracking the assembly of nested parasite communities: using β-diversity to understand variation in parasite richness and composition over time and scaleCommunity 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 highmore »
Ecological Opportunity and Necessity: Biotic and Abiotic Drivers Interact During Diversification of Digital Host-Parasite CommunitiesMost of Earth’s diversity has been produced in rounds of adaptive radiation, but the ecological drivers of diversification, such as abiotic complexity (i.e., ecological opportunity ) or predation and parasitism (i.e., ecological necessity ), are hard to disentangle. However, most of these radiations occurred hundreds of thousands if not millions of years ago, and the mechanisms promoting contemporary coexistence are not necessarily the same mechanisms that drove diversification in the first place. Experimental evolution has been one fruitful approach used to understand how different ecological mechanisms promote diversification in simple microbial microcosms, but these microbial systems come with their own limitations. To test how ecological necessity and opportunity interact, we use an unusual system of self-replicating computer programs that diversify to fill niches in a virtual environment. These organisms are subject to ecological pressures just like their natural counterparts. They experience biotic interactions from digital parasites, which steal host resources to replicate their own code and spread in the population. With the control afforded by experimenting with computational ecologies, we begin to unweave the complex interplay between ecological drivers of diversification. In particular, we find that the complexity of the abiotic environment and the size of the phenotypic space inmore »
Mammals host a wide diversity of parasites. Lice, comprising more than 5,000 species, are one group of ectoparasites whose major lineages have a somewhat patchwork distribution across the major groups of mammals. Here we explored patterns in the diversification of mammalian lice by reconstructing a higher-level phylogeny of these lice, leveraging whole genome sequence reads to assemble single-copy orthologue genes across the genome. The evolutionary tree of lice indicated that three of the major lineages of placental mammal lice had a single common ancestor. Comparisons of this parasite phylogeny with that for their mammalian hosts indicated that the common ancestor of elephants, elephant shrews and hyraxes (that is, Afrotheria) was the ancestral host of this group of lice. Other groups of placental mammals obtained their lice via host-switching out of these Afrotherian ancestors. In addition, reconstructions of the ancestral host group (bird versus mammal) for all parasitic lice supported an avian ancestral host, indicating that the ancestor of Afrotheria acquired these parasites via host-switching from an ancient avian host. These results shed new light on the long-standing question of why the major groups of parasitic lice are not uniformly distributed across mammals and reveal the origins of mammalian lice.
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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 »