HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

David W. Kerstetter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher A. Blanar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth M. Warburton, Ph.D.


Killifish of the genus Fundulus were examined to assess the factors shaping parasite community structure at a genus level. A database of previous parasite surveys on Fundulus species across the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada was created from a literature review. The database included parasite and environmental factor data from 15 sources. Additional sites from New Brunswick, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and South Carolina were sampled for Fundulus species. The resulting database includes data for 10 species from a total of 57 unique geographic sites. Data on the diversity and abundance of metazoan parasites were gathered through laboratory analysis and added to the dataset. Univariate analysis of observed parasite species richness among Fundulus populations in the data set found that latitude (R2 = 0.112, P = 0.011), climate type (R2 = 0.158, P = 0.027), and salinity classification (R2 = 0.223, p = 0.001) were the dominant factors determining parasite species richness. Multivariate analysis found that host species (R= 0.539, P = 0.001) was the most important factor in determining the similarity of parasite assemblages. Within the Fundulus genus, parasite species richness was found to decrease in low latitudes and host phylogeny was not found to be a significant factor in the similarity of parasite communities. Taken together, these results indicate that commonly reported large-scale drivers of parasite community structure, such as latitude and phylogeny, may have diminished significance at the host genus level relative to host ecology and biogeography.

Fundulus_Parasite_Database.xlsx (48 kB)
Final Fundulus Parasite databse file