Ecological correlates between cladocerans and their endoparasites from permanent and rain pools: patterns in community composition and diversity
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Water fleas (Cladocera) constitute a major component in freshwater food webs, with important ecosystem-level consequences. Their abundance and richness are strongly influenced by their ecology and coevolution with numerous endoparasites. We investigated how parasitism shapes cladoceran community structure and diversity. We surveyed 204 freshwater permanent and rain pools in Israel, identified all cladoceran specimens and screened them for infection. Daphniid species richness in this survey was lower than in previous surveys and the distribution pattern of the species was different, most likely due to local extinction and habitat loss. We recorded a total of 21 taxa of endoparasites, of which 13 are most likely species not yet described. Variation in parasite richness among hosts and sites could not be attributed to differences in host body size and behavioral feeding strategies. We extend the known host range and geographic distribution of eight parasites from Europe and North America (between latitudes 40° and 70°) to much southern areas (latitudes 31° and 32°) and to different climate zones (arid and semi-arid areas). In many infected populations we found co-occurrence of at least two endoparasites, and in most of these cases Daphnia individuals were found to be infected by several endoparasite species simultaneously. Such multiple infections may have important consequences for community structure as well as host–parasite coevolution.
KeywordsDaphnia Host range Multiple infections Parasite specificity
We thank D. Ebert and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on this manuscript. Specimens for this study were collected under permit 2011/38101 from the Israeli Authority for Nature Reserves and National Parks.
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