Descubriendo la biodiversidad de parásitos en los Trópicos: Un marco de referencia basado en modelos de nicho ecológico de múltiples especies hospedadoras

Diego Santiago, Octavio Rafael Rojas-Soto


The current threats to biodiversity imposed by human activities highlights the need to focus efforts not only in conserving what we already know, but also in the discovery of new species, particularly of poorly known but ecologically important groups such as parasites and underground fauna. Focusing on parasites, we must consider that their hosts represent their entire habitat, that most host species are infected by more than one parasite species, and that many studies have shown that some host traits (e.g., host body size, geographic range) and host diversity in general are positively correlated with parasite diversity. Thus, host diversity can be a surrogate for parasite diversity, where we would always expect higher parasite species richness than host species richness. Here, we propose a framework using multi-host-species ecological niche models – i.e., stacked species distribution models – or alternatively, the use of host joint species distribution models to guide parasite biodiversity discovery studies. We suggest then to focusing biodiversity surveys on areas with high host species richness and endemicity, which will help making use of limited economic resources because it will concentrate field surveys in
areas with a higher likelihood of parasite discovery (e.g., host diversity hotspots that provide larger habitat heterogeneity for parasites).

Palabras clave

biotic interactions, ecological niche, host communities, parasite assemblages, vector-borne diseases

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