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Data from: Your infections are what you eat: how host ecology shapes the helminth parasite communities of lizards


Leung, Tommy L.F.; Koprivnikar, Janet; Leung, Tommy L. F. (2019), Data from: Your infections are what you eat: how host ecology shapes the helminth parasite communities of lizards, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qk361v8


1. Understanding how parasite communities are assembled, and the factors that influence their richness, can improve our knowledge of parasite-host interactions and help to predict the spread of infectious diseases. Previous comparative analyses have found significant influences of host ecology and life history, but focused on a few select host taxa. 2. Host diet and habitat use play key roles in the acquisition of parasitic helminths as many are trophically-transmitted, making these attributes potentially key indicators of infection risk. Given the paucity of comparative studies with non-piscine, non-avian or non-mammalian hosts, it is critical to examine the degree to which host ecology influences parasite communities in other host taxa in order to identify common drivers. 3. We examined helminth diversity in over 350 species of lizards in relation to their body mass, ecology (diet and habitat use), and life history (clutch size, and ovo- or viviparity) using previously published data. 4. Overall, lizard species with herbivorous diets harboured fewer types of helminths (especially larval stages), with similar results for traits that were ultimately strongly associated with diet (host mass and habitat use). Large hosts tended to be herbivores with few helminth types whereas species utilizing arboreal habitats typically consumed some animal matter and hosted more helminths. 5. Understanding how host ecology and life history are related to their parasite assemblages has significant implications for the risk of acquiring novel parasites. Our results indicate an overwhelming influence of host diet such that many helminths may be relatively easily acquired by hosts in new ranges, or through dietary shifts.

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