Resource tracking in marine parasites: Going with the flow?

Ross THOMPSON, Robert Poulin, Kim N. Mouritsen, David W. Thieltges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding how diversity interacts with energy supply is of broad ecological interest. Most studies to date have investigated patterns within trophic levels, refl ecting a lack of food webs which include information on energy fl ow. We added parasites to a published marine energy-fl ow food web, to explore whether parasite diversity is correlated with energy flow to host taxa. Parasite diversity was high with 36 parasite taxa aff ecting 40 of the 51 animal taxa. Adding parasites increased the number of trophic links per species, trophic link strength, connectance, and food chain lengths. Th ere was evidence of an asymptotic relationship between energy fl owing 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. Th is suggests that energy flow through a taxon may favour parasite diversity, up to a maximal value. Th e 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1194
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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