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Aggregation patterns of helminth populations in the introduced fish, Liza haematocheilus (Teleostei: Mugilidae): disentangling host–parasite relationships

Sarabeev, Volodimir, Balbuena, Juan Antonio, Morand, Serge
International journal for parasitology 2019 v.49 no.1 pp. 83-91
Liza, binomial distribution, helminths, host range, host-parasite relationships, hosts, indigenous species, introduced species, models, mortality, Sea of Japan
A number of hypotheses exist to explain aggregated distributions, but they have seldom been used to investigate differences in parasite spatial distribution between native and introduced hosts. We applied two aggregation models, the negative binomial distribution and Taylor’s power law, to study the aggregation patterns of helminth populations from Liza haematocheilus across its native (Sea of Japan) and introduced (Sea of Azov) distribution ranges. In accordance with the enemy release hypothesis, we predicted that parasite populations in the introduced host range would be less aggregated than in the native host area, because aggregation is tightly constrained by abundance. Contrary to our expectation, aggregation of parasite populations was higher in the introduced host range. However, the analyses suggested that the effect of host introduction on parasite aggregation depends on whether parasite species, or higher level taxonomic groups, were acquired in or carried into the new area. The revealed similarity in the aggregation parameters of co-introduced monogeneans can be attributed to the repeatability and identity of the host–parasite systems. In contrast, the degree of aggregation differed markedly between regions for higher level taxa, which are represented by the native parasites in the Sea of Japan versus the acquired species in the Sea of Azov. We propose that the host species plays a crucial role in regulating infra-population sizes of acquired parasites due to the high rate of host-induced mortality. A large part of the introduced host population may remain uninfected due to their resistance to native naïve parasites. The core concept of our study is that the comparative analysis of aggregation patterns of parasites in communities and populations, and macroecological relationships, can provide a useful tool to reveal cryptic relationships in host–parasite systems of invasive hosts and their parasites.