Do the pattern and strength of species associations in ectoparasite communities conform to biogeographic rules?

Boris R. Krasnov, Georgy I. Shenbrot, Natalia P. Korallo-Vinarskaya, Maxim V. Vinarski, Luther van der Mescht, Elizabeth M. Warburton, Irina S. Khokhlova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We tested whether biogeographic patterns characteristic of species diversity and composition may also apply to community assembly by investigating geographic variation in the pattern (PSA) (aggregation versus segregation) and strength of species associations (SSA) in flea and mite communities harbored by small mammalian hosts in Western Siberia. We asked whether (a) there is a relationship between latitude and PSA or SSA and (b) similarities in PSA or SSA follow a distance decay pattern or if they are better explained by variation in environmental factors (altitude, amount of vegetation, precipitation, and air temperature). We used a sign of a co-occurrence metric (the C-score) as an indicator of PSA and its absolute standardized value as a measure of SSA. We analyzed data using logistic and linear models, generalized dissimilarity modeling (GDM), and a logistic version of the multiple regression on distance matrices (MRM). The majority of the C-scores of the observed presence/absence matrices indicated a tendency to species aggregation rather than segregation. No effect of latitude on PSA or SSA was found. The dissimilarity in PSA was affected by environmental dissimilarity in mite compound communities only. A relatively large proportion of the deviance of spatial variation in SSA was explained by the GDMs in infracommunities, but not component communities, and in only three (of seven) and two (of eight) host species of fleas and mites, respectively. The best predictors of dissimilarity in SSA in fleas differed between host species, whereas the same factor (precipitation) was the best predictor of dissimilarity in SSA in mites. We conclude that PSA and SSA in parasite communities rarely conform to biogeographic rules. However, when a biogeographic pattern is detected, its manifestation differs among hosts and between ectoparasite taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1125
Number of pages13
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • Distance decay of similarity
  • Fleas
  • Gamasid mites
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Species co-occurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Veterinary (all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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