Data from: Whether larval amphibians school does not affect the parasite aggregation rule: testing the effects of host spatial heterogeneity in field and experimental studies
Koprivnikar, Janet; Riepe, Tawni B.; Calhoun, Dana M.; Johnson, Pieter T. J. (2017), Data from: Whether larval amphibians school does not affect the parasite aggregation rule: testing the effects of host spatial heterogeneity in field and experimental studies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tk5cq
Almost all macroparasites show over-dispersed infections within natural host populations such that most parasites are distributed among a few heavily-infected individuals. Despite the importance of parasite aggregation for understanding system stability, the potential for population regulation, and super-spreading events, many questions persist about its underlying drivers. Theoretically, aggregation results from heterogeneity in host exposure, resistance, and tolerance. However, few studies have examined how host spatial arrangement – which likely affects both parasite encounter and density-dependent interactions – influences infection and dispersion, representing a critical gap in our current knowledge regarding the possible drivers of parasite aggregation. Using field data from over 165 ponds and 8,000 hosts, we evaluated how the spatial clustering of amphibian larvae within ponds 1) varied among different amphibian species, and 2), affected the distribution of parasites within the host population using Taylor’s Power Law. A complementary mesocosm experiment used field-guided manipulations of the spatial arrangement of larval amphibians to create a gradient in host clustering while controlling host density, thereby testing for spatial effects on both infection success and aggregation by three different trematode species. Our field data indicated that larval amphibians exhibited significant spatial clustering that was well captured by Taylor’s Power Law (R2 0.92 to 0.97 for different host species), but the residual variation only weakly correlated with observed patterns of trematode parasite over-dispersion. Correspondingly, experimental manipulation of host clustering had no effects on parasite infection success or the degree of parasite aggregation among cages or mesocosms. Given the importance of parasite over-dispersion for host populations and disease dynamics, we advocate for further investigations of host and parasite spatial aggregation, particularly studies that incorporate and/or control for heterogeneity in exposure and susceptibility.
National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0841758, DEB-1149308