, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 467-490

Interspecific competition among macroparasites in a density-dependent host population

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Abstract.

 We analyze the dynamics of a community of macroparasite species that share the same host. Our work extends an earlier framework for a host species that would grow exponentially in the absence of parasitism, to one where an uninfected host population is regulated by factors other than parasites. The model consists of one differential equation for each parasite species and a single density-dependent nonlinear equation for the host. We assume that each parasite species has a negative binomial distribution within the host and there is zero covariance between the species (exploitation competition). New threshold conditions on model parameters for the coexistence and competitive exclusion of parasite species are derived via invadibility and stability analysis of corresponding equilibria. The main finding is that the community of parasite species coexisting at the stable equilibrium is obtained by ranking the species according t! o th e minimum host density H * above which a parasite species can grow when rare: the lower H * , the higher the competitive ability. We also show that ranking according to the basic reproduction number Q 0 does not in general coincide with ranking according to H * . The second result is that the type of interaction between host and parasites is crucial in determining the competitive success of a parasite species, because frequency-dependent transmission of free-living stages enhances the invading ability of a parasite species while density-dependent transmission makes a parasite very sensitive to other competing species. Finally, we show that density dependence in the host population entails a simplification of the portrait of possible outcomes with respect to previous studies, because all the cases resulting in the exponential growth of host and parasite populations are eliminated..

Received: 24 June 1996 / Revised version: 28 April 1998