Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Eutrophication, biodiversity loss, and species invasions modify the relationship between host and parasite richness during host community assembly.

Abstract

Host and parasite richness are generally positively correlated, but the stability of this relationship in response to global change remains poorly understood. Rapidly changing biotic and abiotic conditions can alter host community assembly, which in turn, can alter parasite transmission. Consequently, if the relationship between host and parasite richness is sensitive to parasite transmission, then changes in host composition under various global change scenarios could strengthen or weaken the relationship between host and parasite richness. To test the hypothesis that host community assembly can alter the relationship between host and parasite richness in response to global change, we experimentally crossed host diversity (biodiversity loss) and resource supply to hosts (eutrophication), then allowed communities to assemble. As previously shown, initial host diversity and resource supply determined the trajectory of host community assembly, altering post-assembly host species richness, richness-independent host phylogenetic diversity, and colonization by exotic host species. Overall, host richness predicted parasite richness, and as predicted, this effect was moderated by exotic abundance-communities dominated by exotic species exhibited a stronger positive relationship between post-assembly host and parasite richness. Ultimately, these results suggest that, by modulating parasite transmission, community assembly can modify the relationship between host and parasite richness. These results thus provide a novel mechanism to explain how global environmental change can generate contingencies in a fundamental ecological relationship-the positive relationship between host and parasite richness.