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Data from: Divergent parasite infections in sympatric cichlid species in Lake Victoria

Cite this dataset

Karvonen, Anssi; Wagner, Catherine E.; Selz, Oliver M.; Seehausen, Ole (2018). Data from: Divergent parasite infections in sympatric cichlid species in Lake Victoria [Dataset]. Dryad.


Parasitism has been proposed as a factor in host speciation, as an agent affecting coexistence of host species in species rich communities, and as a driver of post-speciation diversification. Young adaptive radiations of closely related host species of varying ecological and genomic differentiation provide interesting opportunities to explore interactions between patterns of parasitism, divergence and coexistence of sympatric host species. Here, we explored patterns in ectoparasitism in a community of 16 fully sympatric cichlid species at Makobe Island in Lake Victoria, a model system of vertebrate adaptive radiation. We asked if host niche, host abundance or host genetic differentiation explain variation in infection patterns. We found significant differences in infections, the magnitude of which was weakly correlated with the extent of genomic divergence between the host species, but more strongly with the main ecological gradient, water depth. These effects were most evident with infections of Cichlidogyrus monogeneans, while the only host species with a strictly crevice-dwelling niche, Pundamilia pundamilia, deviated from the general negative relationship between depth and parasitism. In accordance with the Janzen-Connell hypothesis, we also found that host abundance tended to be positively associated with infections in some parasite taxa. Data on the Pundamilia sister species-pairs from three other islands with variable degrees of habitat (crevice) specialization suggested that the lower parasite abundance of P. pundamilia at Makobe could result from both habitat specialization and the evolution of specific resistance. Our results support influences of host genetic differentiation and host ecology in determining infections in this diverse community of sympatric cichlid species.

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