SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Parasites and regional processes may be important to structure local species assemblages In particular, it has been hypothesized that widely distributed and abundant species should harbour more parasite species which could give them a competitive advantage in local species assemblages Empirical evidence bearing on these points are scarce and mainly restricted to vertebrate hosts or plants The aim of this study was to provide data in insect hosts and to test whether the patterns in field populations conform with those correlates expected from the parasite-host distribution hypothesis We investigated species assemblages of bumblebees at 12 different sites in a mesoscale region with their parasites over two consecutive years Parasites included dipteran and hymenopteran parasitoids. nematodes, mites, and protozoa The mean number of parasite species per host species ranged from 1 to 8 To account for sampling effort, all data were corrected for sample size effects The number of parasite species per average host individual (parasite load) ranged from 0 09 to 0 75 In cross-species comparisons, the number of parasite species per host species was positively correlated with regional distribution, i e the number of sites a host species occupied m the region, and with the average local host abundance The same relationships were found for parasite load In addition, parasite load correlated positively with average colony size of the host species, but not with body size of the individuals Bumblebee species were bimodally distributed When separated into widely-distributed and locally-occurring species, common hosts harboured more parasite species than rare ones Moreover, workers of common species individually had higher parasite loads From these results, we conclude that some of the necessary preconditions for parasites being able to affect the distribution and occurrence of their hosts are met in bumblebees The findings support a general pattern that parasite loads correlate positively with local abundance and geographical distribution of their hosts, also on mesoscales usually considered in ecological studies