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Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Ecological Society of America


A core goal of ecology is to understand the abiotic and biotic variables that regulate species distributions and community composition. A major obstacle is that the rules governing species distributions can change with spatial scale. Here, we illustrate this point using data from a spatially nested metacommunity of parasites infecting a metapopulation of threespine stickleback fish from 34 lakes on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Like most parasite metacommunities, the composition of stickleback parasites differs among host individuals within each host population, and differs between host populations. The distribution of each parasite taxon depends, to varying degrees, on individual host traits (e.g., mass, diet) and on host‐population characteristics (e.g., lake size, mean host mass, mean diet). However, in most cases in this data set, a given parasite was regulated by different factors at the host‐individual and host‐population scales, leading to scale‐dependent patterns of parasite‐species co‐occurrence.


Author Posting © The Authors, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of the Authors for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Ecology, Volume 101, Issue 12, December 2020,

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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