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

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

5 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was conducted as a part of the Doctoral thesis of the first author, funded by a scholarship of Universidad de Antofagasta. We would like to thank Sergio Guillén and Luis Ñacari for providing data, Robert Clarke for statistical advice and Ricardo Guiñez for the support in phylogenetic signal analysis. This study was supported by FONDECYT grant 1140173 to M.E.O. J.L.L. was supported by a Researcher fellowship from CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico do Brasil).

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


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


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing for deterministic succession in metazoan parasite communities of marine fish'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this