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Comparative analysis of endoparasitic helminths in Lake Tanganyikan cichlids: host body mass and social interaction as determinants of parasite load
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Biology Education Centre.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 80 credits / 120 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Parasites are an important component of every ecosystem, and their interactions with hosts can directly impact the fitness of the host organisms. Despite their significance, it is still largely unknown which host traits predispose a species to increased risk of parasite attack. In the present study, I investigated host and ecological correlates of parasite load in Lake Tanganyikan cichlids using phylogenetic comparative analyses. Specifically, I tested the effect of body size, brain mass, gut length, depth, trophic level, habitat complexity and mating system on parasite prevalence and diversity.  I found that the variation in both average infracommunity richness and parasite prevalence were partly explained by host body mass and habitat complexity. Total parasite diversity, on the other hand, was significantly related to mating behaviour as well as habitat complexity. The comparative analysis presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, the first to investigate determinants of parasite load in Lake Tanganyikan cichlids. As such, my results support several major hypotheses concerning the factors that underlie parasite prevalence and diversity and have broad implications for our understanding of parasite-host interactions.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 20 p.
Keyword [en]
cichlids, parasites, phylogenetic comparative methods
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-220107OAI: diva2:704109
Educational program
Master Programme in Biology
Available from: 2014-07-23 Created: 2014-03-11 Last updated: 2015-10-01Bibliographically approved

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