Temporal effects on host - parasite associations in sympatric goby fishes naturalized in the area of introduction
|BACKGROUND: Introduced species are often characterised by reduced parasite numbers compared to their native populations . Any such advantage gained from parasite release following introduction into a new area may often diminish over a short period as the new host gradually acquires local parasites. Recently, Ponto - Caspian goby fishes started to expand their home range and i nvaded various water systems in Europe and North America. METHODS: In our study, the temporal changes in the metazoan parasite communities of four goby species ( Proterorhinus semilunaris , Ponticola kessleri , Neogobius melanostomus , N. fluviatilis ) recently introduced into the lower River Rhine (Germany) were investigated. RESULTS: Our results showed a significant positive relationship between both the overall mean abundance and infracommunity richness and the time since the host introduction into the sampl ing region when using data without correction for fish phylogeny or data corrected for fish phylogeny. Both parasite variables showed the highest values in P. semilunaris . Sporadic local parasite acquisition and infection, predominantly by species commonly found in the native range, led to a relatively high qualitative similarity in parasite communities between the host species. CONCLUSIONS: Data from this study emphasise the importance of duration of co - occurrence, host habitat, and foraging preference, a s well as the co - introduction of suitable intermediate hosts, for parasite community composition in related species. This work was supported by the grant No. P505122569.