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Structure of parasite communities in urban environments: the case of helminths in synanthropic rodents.

Folia Parasitol (Praha); 652018 Jun 21.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30183669
Identifying patterns with sufficient predictive power is a constant challenge for ecologists to address ecological problems related to species conservation, pollution or infectious disease control. During the last years, the amounts of parasitological studies in this sense increased, but they are still scarce in urban environments. The main aim of this study was to investigate if the helminth communities of urban rodents are structured within host assembly (compound community) or they are a result of random events occurring at each individual host scale (infracommunity). A total of 203 rodents belonging to four species, Rattus rattus (Linnaeus), Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout), Mus musculus Linnaeus and the native Oligoryzomys flavescens (Waterhouse) and captured in different landscape units of the City of Buenos Aires (industrial-residential neighbourhoods, shantytowns and parklands) were analysed. The results showed that infracommunities could be grouped according to composition and relative abundances and that they respond to the structure of the host community. Thus, the component communities defined in this study could be identified as subsets of the compound community (rodent assemblage) and infracommunities (each host) as random samples within each one. Quantitative differences among component communities were denoted by comparing the infection levels of helminths described as central species. Therefore, infracommunities of R. norvegicus and O. flavescens were the most predictable because of the high abundance of the nematodes Heterakis spumosa Schneider, 1866 and Nippostrongylus brasiliensis (Travassos, 1914), and Stilestrongylus flavescens (Sutton et Durette-Desset, 1991), respectively. Several mechanisms contribute to complexity of the structure of parasite communities, where specific parasites, definitive and intermediate hosts, and environmental and anthropogenic factors all play a role in the dynamics of the compound community.