Are there general rules governing parasite diversity? Small mammalian hosts and gamasid mite assemblages

Natalia P. Korallo, Maxim V. Vinarski, Boris R. Krasnov, Georgy I. Shenbrot, David Mouillot, Robert Poulin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Scopus citations


    Parasite biodiversity varies on several scales, and in particular among different host species. Previous attempts at finding relationships between host features and the diversity of the parasite assemblages they harbour have yielded inconsistent results, suggesting strongly that any patterns might be taxon-specific. Here, we examined the potential of three host characteristics (host body mass, basal metabolic rate, and area of the geographical range) as determinants of parasite diversity in one group of ectoparasites, gamasid mites (superfamily Dermanyssoidea), using data from 63 species of small mammalian hosts. Our analyses used three measures of parasite diversity (species richness, the Shannon diversity index, and average taxonomic distinctness), and controlled for sampling effort and phylogenetic influences. Although several significant relationships were observed, they depended entirely on which diversity measure was used, or on which host taxon was investigated (insectivores vs. rodents and lagomorphs). In addition, the present results on patterns of mite diversity were not consistent with those of an earlier study involving roughly the same host taxa and the same biogeographical area, but a different group of ectoparasites, i.e. fleas. Thus, there appears to be no universal determinant of parasite diversity, and associations between host features and parasite diversity probably evolve independently in different host-parasite systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)353-360
    Number of pages8
    JournalDiversity and Distributions
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1 May 2007


    • Basal metabolic rate
    • Body mass
    • Diversity
    • Geographical range
    • Hosts
    • Parasites

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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