Species accumulation curves and their applications in parasite ecology

Trends in Parasitology
A D Dove, Thomas Cribb


Species accumulation curves (SACs) chart the increase in recovery of new species as a function of some measure of sampling effort. Studies of parasite diversity can benefit from the application of SACs, both as empirical tools to guide sampling efforts and predict richness, and because their properties are informative about community patterns and the structure of parasite diversity. SACs can be used to infer interactivity in parasite infracommunities, to partition species richness into contributions from different spatial scales and different levels of the host hierarchy (individuals, populations and communities) or to identify modes of community assembly (niche versus dispersal). A historical tendency to treat individual hosts as statistically equivalent replicates (quadrats) seemingly satisfies the sample-based subgroup of SACs but care is required in this because of the inequality of hosts as sampling units. Knowledge of the true distribution of parasite richness over multiple host-derived and spatial scales is far from complete but SACs can improve the understanding of diversity patterns in parasite assemblages.


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