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Pacific Parasites Data - Life history mediates the association between parasite abundance and geographic features

Cite this dataset

Williams, Maureen (2022). Pacific Parasites Data - Life history mediates the association between parasite abundance and geographic features [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Though parasites are ubiquitous in marine ecosystems, predicting the abundance of parasites present within marine ecosystems has proven challenging due to the unknown effects of multiple interacting environmental gradients and stressors. Furthermore, parasites often are considered as a uniform group within ecosystems despite their significant diversity.

2. We aim to determine the potential importance of multiple predictors of parasite abundance in coral reef ecosystems, including reef area, island area, human population density, chlorophyll-a, host diversity, coral cover, host abundance, and island isolation.

3. Using a model selection approach within a database of more than 1200 individual fish hosts and their parasites from 11 islands within the Pacific Line Islands archipelago, we reveal that geographic gradients, including island area and island isolation, emerged as the best predictors of parasite abundance.

4. Life history moderated the relationship; parasites with complex life cycles increased in abundance with increasing island isolation, while parasites with direct life cycles decreased with increasing isolation. Direct life cycle parasites increased in abundance with increasing island area, though complex life cycle parasite abundance was not associated with island area.

5. This novel analysis of a unique dataset indicates that parasite abundance in marine systems cannot be predicted precisely without accounting for the independent and interactive effects of each parasite’s life history and environmental conditions.

Usage notes

data_point - Number of the individual data point
count - Count of parasite abundance
fish_abundance_average_byisland - Fish abundance- standardized
trans - Transmission type
tract - Reef Tract
count_id - ID of each count
fish_unique_code - Code of each fish
island - Island
human_populaton - Human population - standardized
fish_sp - Fish species
fish_diversity - Fish diversity - standardized 
coral_cover - Percentage benthic cover from corals - standardized
island_chla - Island level chlorophyll a concentration - standardized
island_distance - Island distance to nearest land - standardized
island_area - Island Area - standardized
para_unique - Parasite ID unique to each fish species
length - Fish length standardized within fish species
reef_area - Reef area not including island area- standardized


National Science Foundation, Award: 1829509