Background: Interactions between parasite species within a host play a fundamental role in shaping parasite communities that have been classified within a continuum between interactive and isolationist. Interactive communities are principally structured by interactions between parasite species, while isolationist communities are structured by processes independent of the presence of other parasite species. Assessing whether, and to what extent, parasite communities exist along this continuum has been challenging due to a lack of an index that quantifies the degree of interactivity. Moreover, the absence of an index at the individual host level has made it unfeasible to identify host and extrinsic factors that may influence the degree of interactivity of a parasite community. Methods: Here we propose an infracommunity crowding index that can reflect the degree of interactivity of a parasite community within each individual. This index quantifies the mean number of parasites that the average parasite within a community is exposed to, including the different aspects of parasite communities important in determining the level of interactivity, i.e. total abundance, species richness and evenness. We applied this analytical approach to the abomasal parasite communities of three alpine ruminant species that are traditionally viewed as isolationist. Results: The application of our index to abomasal parasite communities shows that the majority of parasites live in highly crowded communities, suggesting that these host species harbour interactive parasite communities. In addition, the infracommunity crowding was highly variable and influenced by the host species, as well as by the timing of sampling and host age and sex. Conclusions: Despite increasing evidence on the influence of interactions between parasite species in shaping infections, an analytical measure to quantify the degree of interactivity of parasite communities is lacking. Here we present a new analytical approach which, when applied to parasite communities, appears to be sensitive to both extrinsic and host factors, highlighting that the degree of interactivity is not a static and specific feature of host species, but rather a dynamical process that keeps evolving during host's life. The new index provides opportunities for further investigations aimed at revealing the determinants of parasite interactivity.
Infracommunity crowding as an individual measure of interactive-isolationist degree of parasite communities : Disclosing the effects of extrinsic and host factors / N. Ferrari, C.V. Citterio, P. Lanfranchi. - In: PARASITES & VECTORS. - ISSN 1756-3305. - 9:1(2016).
|Titolo:||Infracommunity crowding as an individual measure of interactive-isolationist degree of parasite communities : Disclosing the effects of extrinsic and host factors|
FERRARI, NICOLA (Corresponding)
LANFRANCHI, PAOLO (Ultimo)
|Parole Chiave:||abomasal nematodes; co-infection; infracommunity structure; interactivity; isolationism; parasite-parasite interaction; ruminants; parasitology; infectious diseases|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore VET/06 - Parassitologia e Malattie Parassitarie degli Animali|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2016|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13071-016-1371-2|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|
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