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Halfway up the trophic chain: development of parasite communities in the sparid fish Boops boops

  • A. PÉREZ-DEL OLMO (a1) (a2), M. FERNÁNDEZ (a1), J. A. RAGA (a1), A. KOSTADINOVA (a1) (a3) and R. POULIN (a2)...


We examined the patterns of composition and structure of parasite communities in the Mediterranean sparid fish Boops boops along a gradient of fish sizes, using a large sample from a single population. We tested the hypothesis that species forming the core of the bogue parasite fauna (i.e. species which have a wide geographical range and are responsible for recognizable community structure) appear early in the fish ontogeny. The sequential community development observed supported the prediction that core species appear in the fish population earlier than rare and stochastic species. There was also a strong correlation between the order of ‘arrival’ of the species and their overall prevalence. Six key species were responsible for recognizable community structure across size/age cohorts; the addition to this baseline community of key parasite species resulted in a nested structure that is linked to differential species abundance rather than fish size. Information on the life-cycles, distribution and host range of the parasites is used to explain the observed patterns of parasite community structure. We conclude that the small mouth size of B. boops coupled with suction feeding may provide a setting for passive sampling as a mechanism leading to non-random parasite community structure.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Marine Zoology Unit, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, PO Box 22085, 46071 Valencia, Spain. Tel: +34 963543657. Fax: +34 963543733. E-mail:


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Halfway up the trophic chain: development of parasite communities in the sparid fish Boops boops

  • A. PÉREZ-DEL OLMO (a1) (a2), M. FERNÁNDEZ (a1), J. A. RAGA (a1), A. KOSTADINOVA (a1) (a3) and R. POULIN (a2)...


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