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      Small-scale to large-scale and back: larval trematodes in Lymnaea stagnalis and Planorbarius corneus in Central Europe

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      Parasitology Research

      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          We examined the small-scale temporal and spatial variability in composition and structure of larval trematode communities in Lymnaea stagnalis and Planorbarius corneus in two fish ponds in the Czech Republic and compared the patterns of richness and similarity to continental and regional trematode faunas of these hosts. The levels of parasitism in the populations of both hosts were high, the former parasitized predominantly by allogenic species maturing in a wide range of birds and the latter infected by relatively more species completing their life cycles in micromammals. Communities in both hosts exhibited a congruent pattern of seasonal change in overall infection rates and community composition with lower levels of infection in spring. Both temporal and spatial variation was closely related to the structure of snail populations, and no significant differentiation of community composition with respect to pond was observed. Comparisons with large-scale inventories revealed overall congruent patterns of decreased richness and similarity and increased variability at the smaller scales in both host-parasite systems. The relative compositional homogeneity of larval communities in both snail hosts irrespective of scale suggests that historical data at small to medium regional scales may provide useful estimates of past richness and composition of larval trematode communities in these snail hosts.

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          Parasites dominate food web links.

          Parasitism is the most common animal lifestyle, yet food webs rarely include parasites. The few earlier studies have indicated that including parasites leads to obvious increases in species richness, number of links, and food chain length. A less obvious result was that adding parasites slightly reduced connectance, a key metric considered to affect food web stability. However, reported reductions in connectance after the addition of parasites resulted from an inappropriate calculation. Two alternative corrective approaches applied to four published studies yield an opposite result: parasites increase connectance, sometimes dramatically. In addition, we find that parasites can greatly affect other food web statistics, such as nestedness (asymmetry of interactions), chain length, and linkage density. Furthermore, whereas most food webs find that top trophic levels are least vulnerable to natural enemies, the inclusion of parasites revealed that mid-trophic levels, not low trophic levels, suffered the highest vulnerability to natural enemies. These results show that food webs are very incomplete without parasites. Most notably, recognition of parasite links may have important consequences for ecosystem stability because they can increase connectance and nestedness.
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            Host diversity begets parasite diversity: bird final hosts and trematodes in snail intermediate hosts.

            An unappreciated facet of biodiversity is that rich communities and high abundance may foster parasitism. For parasites that sequentially use different host species throughout complex life cycles, parasite diversity and abundance in 'downstream' hosts should logically increase with the diversity and abundance of 'upstream' hosts (which carry the preceding stages of parasites). Surprisingly, this logical assumption has little empirical support, especially regarding metazoan parasites. Few studies have attempted direct tests of this idea and most have lacked the appropriate scale of investigation. In two different studies, we used time-lapse videography to quantify birds at fine spatial scales, and then related bird communities to larval trematode communities in snail populations sampled at the same small spatial scales. Species richness, species heterogeneity and abundance of final host birds were positively correlated with species richness, species heterogeneity and abundance of trematodes in host snails. Such community-level interactions have rarely been demonstrated and have implications for community theory, epidemiological theory and ecosystem management.
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              Properties of the Rarefaction Diversity Measurement

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Parasitology Research
                Parasitol Res
                Springer Nature
                0932-0113
                1432-1955
                January 2011
                September 28 2010
                January 2011
                : 108
                : 1
                : 137-150
                Article
                10.1007/s00436-010-2047-z
                20878185
                © 2011
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