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The decay of parasite community similarity in ring-billed gulls Larus delawarensis and other hosts

Authors

  • Sean A. Locke,

    1. Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada
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  • Michael S. Levy,

    1. Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada
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  • David J. Marcogliese,

    1. Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada
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  • Sol Ackerman,

    1. Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada
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  • J. Daniel McLaughlin

    1. Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada
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S. A. Locke, Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Div., Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, St. Lawrence Centre, 105 McGill Street, 7th Floor, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E7, Canada. E-mail: sean.locke@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

The similarity of parasite communities often decays with increasing geographic distance. Here, geographic distance decay is evaluated in parasite communities of 145 ring-billed gulls from six localities in Quebec, Canada, among both individual gulls and gull populations. Spatial decay in similarity is compared to temporal decay, using host age differences as a distance measure. The similarity of parasite communities of individual gulls from localities spanning 300 km within Quebec is more strongly associated with host age differences than with geographic distance. Among gull populations in Quebec, only geographic distance is significantly related to parasite community similarity. The explanatory power of geographic distance is higher still when data from Quebec are combined with those from a study conducted 3000 km away, indicating an effect of spatial scale on geographic distance decay. The rate at which parasite community similarity decays with distance in gulls is compared with that of 17 other host species using data from published studies. Spatial scale explains two thirds of the variance in distance decay rates, and some of the remaining variance is explained by latitude. The rate of decay in parasite community similarity with distance is greater in larger scale studies and further away from the equator. Traits of host species traits such as vagility, body weight and trophic level have little or no effect on distance decay rates.

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