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Phylogenetic signals in host-parasite associations for Neotropical bats and Nearctic desert rodents

Cite this dataset

Presley, Steven J.; Dallas, Tad; Klingbeil, Brian T.; Willig, Michael R. (2016). Phylogenetic signals in host-parasite associations for Neotropical bats and Nearctic desert rodents [Dataset]. Dryad.


Hosts and their parasites have strong ecological and evolutionary relationships, with hosts representing habitats and resources for parasites. In the present study, we use approaches developed to evaluate the statistical dependence of species trait values on phylogenetic relationships to determine whether host–parasite relationships (i.e. parasite infections) are contingent on host phylogeny. If host–parasite relationships are contingent on the ability of hosts to provide habitat or resources to parasites, and if host phylogeny is an effective surrogate for among-host variation in habitat and resource quality, host–parasite relationships should evince phylogenetic signals (i.e. be contingent on host phylogeny). Because the strength of ecological relationships between parasites and their hosts may affect the likelihood of phylogenetic signals occurring in host–parasite relationships, we hypothesized that (1) host specificity would be positively correlated with the strength of phylogenetic signals and (2) the strength of phylogenetic signals will be greater for parasites that rely more on their host throughout their life cycle. Analyses were conducted for ectoparasites from tropical bats and for ectoparasites, helminths, and coccidians from desert rodents. Phylogenetic signals were evaluated for parasite presence and for parasite prevalence. The frequency of phylogenetic signal occurrence was similar for parasite presence and prevalence, with a signal detected in 24–27% of cases at the species level and in 67% and 15% of cases at the genus level for parasites of bats and rodents, respectively. No differences in signal strength or the likelihood of detecting a signal existed between groups of parasites. Phylogenetic signal strength was correlated with host specificity, suggesting that mechanisms increasing host specificity also increase the likelihood of a phylogenetic signal in host use by parasites. Differences in the transmission mode did not affect signal strength or the likelihood of detecting a signal, indicating that variation in host switching opportunities associated with the transmission mode does not affect signal strength.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1050680

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-9400926

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-9741543

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-9741134

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1239764

American Society of Mammalogists

Texas Tech University


New Mexico