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A strong colonizer rules the trematode guild in an intertidal snail host

March 25, 2019

We examined the extent to which supply‐side, niche, and competition theories and concepts help explain a trematode community in which one species comprises 87% of the trematode individuals, and the remaining 15 species each have <3%. We collected and dissected the common and wide‐ranging snail host Heleobia australis over four seasons from three distinct habitats from the intertidal area of the Bahía Blanca estuary, Argentina. Inside a snail, trematodes interact with each other with outcomes that depend on facilitation, competition, and preemption, suggesting that dominant species should be common. The abundant trematode species, Microphallus simillimus, is a weak competitor,but has life‐history traits and strategies associated with higher colonization ability that could increase its probability of invading the host first, allowing it to preempt the rare species. Rather than segregate by habitat, trematode species aggregated in pans during the summer where dominant trematode species often excluded subordinate ones. Despite losses to competition, and a lack of niche partitioning, M. simillimus ruled this species‐rich trematode guild through strong recruitment and (potentially) preemption. Therefore, extremely skewed species abundance distributions, like this one, can derive from extremely skewed colonization abilities.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title A strong colonizer rules the trematode guild in an intertidal snail host
DOI 10.1002/ecy.2696
Authors Pilar Alda, Nicolas Bonel, Nestor J. Cazzaniga, Sergio R. Martorelli, Kevin D. Lafferty
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology
Index ID 70203951
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center