Date of this Version
Parasitology (2023), 1-11.
Parasites are key components of the biosphere not only due to their huge diversity, but also because they exert important influences on ecological processes. Nevertheless, we lack an understanding of the biogeographical patterns of parasite diversity. Here, we tap into the potential of biodiversity collections for understanding parasite biogeography. We assess species richness of supracommunities of helminth parasites infecting mammal assemblages in the Nearctic, and describe its relation to latitude, climate, host diversity, and land area. We compiled data from parasitology collections and assessed parasite diversity in Nearctic ecoregions for the entire parasite supracommunity of mammals in each ecoregion, as well as separately from carnivores and rodents to explore the effect of host taxonomic resolution on observed patterns. For carnivores, we found evidence of a negative latitudinal gradient, while parasites of rodents displayed no clear pattern. We found that parasite diversity was positively correlated with mean annual temperature and negatively correlated with seasonal precipitation. Parasite richness shows a diversity peak at intermediate host richness values and in carnivores correlates with temperature and seasonal precipitation. Rodent parasite diversity did not correlate with explored factors. Other researchers are encouraged to use parasitology collections to continue exploring patterns of parasite biogeography and macroecology.