Testing for deterministic succession in metazoan parasite communities of marine fish

Juan F. Espínola-Novelo, M. Teresa González, Aldo S. Pacheco, José L. Luque, Marcelo E. Oliva

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11 Scopus citations


Parasite communities are similar to free-living communities; decay of similarity over geographic distance, theory of island biogeography, species–area relationships and nestedness have been documented in both communities. Ecological succession has been studied in free-living communities but has rarely been examined in parasite communities. We use seriation with replication to test the hypothesis that succession of parasite community structure is deterministic, thus developing throughout consecutive changes along the fish ontogeny, via a seriated pattern. 12 306 marine fishes (95 species) were studied. In 40 species, a seriated pattern was detected; 25 had a tendency towards a seriated pattern, and for 31 species, succession was at random. Age-classes for each host species explained deterministic successional patterns for whole parasite communities and ectoparasites. Richness and number of age-classes explained this pattern for endoparasites. Seriated successional pattern was evident for parasite communities of long-lived marine fish, indicating that parasite communities follow sequential changes over time, like many free-living communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-641
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Seriation
  • ectoparasites
  • endoparasites
  • ontogeny
  • structured community


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