Drivers of compositional turnover are related to species’ commonness in flea assemblages from four biogeographic realms: zeta diversity and multi-site generalised dissimilarity modelling

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Abstract

We investigated drivers of species turnover in fleas parasitic on small mammals in four biogeographic realms using novel methodology (zeta diversity, and Multi-Site Generalised Dissimilarity Modelling). We asked whether (i) flea turnover was better explained by host turnover or environmental variables; (ii) different factors drive the turnover of rare and widespread fleas; (iii) the factors affecting the turnover of rare or widespread fleas differ between realms; and (iv) environmental variables drive flea turnover directly or via their effects on hosts. Dissimilarity in host species composition was the most important factor affecting flea turnover in all realms. In the Afrotropics, the Nearctic, and the Neotropics, this was true mainly for rare species, whereas the zeta diversity of the Palearctic hosts exerted a strong effect on the turnover of both rare and widespread fleas. Dissimilarity in temperature contributed the most to the turnover of rare fleas in the Neotropics and the Palearctic, whereas the turnover of widespread species in these realms was strongly affected by dissimilarity in precipitation. In the Nearctic, dissimilarity in precipitation or temperature mostly affected the turnover of rare fleas or common species, respectively. In the Afrotropics, dissimilarity in the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index and temperature affected the turnover of all species, independently of their level of commonness, while dissimilarity in rainfall was important for the turnover of rare fleas. The responses of flea assemblages to environmental factors represented a combination of direct responses and responses mediated via effects on host turnover. We conclude that host turnover is a more important factor than environmental dissimilarity in its effect on flea species turnover. However, the relative effects of host composition and environment, as well as those of temperature, precipitation and the amount of vegetation, on flea turnover differ (i) between realms and (ii) between rare and common fleas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-344
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Biogeographic realms
  • Fleas
  • Small mammals
  • Species turnover
  • Zeta diversity

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