Biological communities may be assembled by both niche-based and dispersal-based (= historic) processes with the relative importance of these processes in community assembly being scale- and context-dependent. To infer whether (a) niche‐based or dispersal‐based processes play the main role in the assembly of flea communities parasitic on small mammals and whether (b) the main processes of flea community assembly are scale-dependent, we applied a novel permutation-based algorithm (PER-SIMPER) and the dispersal–niche continuum index (DNCI), to data on the species incidence of fleas and their hosts at two spatial scales. At the larger (continental) scale, we analysed flea communities in four biogeographic realms across adjacent continental sections. At the smaller (local) scale, we considered flea communities across two main regions (lowlands and mountains) and seven habitat types within Slovakia. Our analyses demonstrated that species composition of fleas and their small mammalian hosts depended predominantly on historical processes (dispersal) at both scale. This was true for the majority of biogeographic realms at continental scale (except the Nearctic) and both regions at local scale. Nevertheless, strong niche-based assembly mechanism was found in the Nearctic assemblages. At local scale, the intensity of dispersal processes was weaker and niche-driven processes were stronger between habitats within a region than between mountain and lowland regions. We provide historical and ecological explanations for these patterns. We conclude that the assembly of compound flea communities is governed, to a great extent, by the dispersal processes acting on their hosts and, to a lesser extent, by the niche-based processes.
- Assembly processes
- Biogeographic realms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics