Resource tracking in marine parasites: going with the flow?
Article first published online: 21 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Authors
Volume 122, Issue 8, pages 1187–1194, August 2013
How to Cite
Thompson, R. M., Poulin, R., Mouritsen, K. N. and Thieltges, D. W. (2013), Resource tracking in marine parasites: going with the flow?. Oikos, 122: 1187–1194. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2012.00245.x
- Issue published online: 16 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 21 MAR 2013
- Paper manuscript accepted 9 November 2012
Understanding how diversity interacts with energy supply is of broad ecological interest. Most studies to date have investigated patterns within trophic levels, reflecting a lack of food webs which include information on energy flow. We added parasites to a published marine energy-flow food web, to explore whether parasite diversity is correlated with energy flow to host taxa. Parasite diversity was high with 36 parasite taxa affecting 40 of the 51 animal taxa. Adding parasites increased the number of trophic links per species, trophic link strength, connectance, and food chain lengths. There was evidence of an asymptotic relationship between energy flowing through a food chain and parasite diversity, although there were clear outliers. High parasite diversity was associated with host taxa which were highly connected within the food web. This suggests that energy flow through a taxon may favour parasite diversity, up to a maximal value. The evolutionary and energetic basis for that limitation is of key interest in understanding the basis for parasite diversity in natural food webs and thus their role in food web dynamics.