Parasite diversity and host evolution: A global analysis of carnivores
Results/Conclusions Species richness estimates indicate that the current published literature captures less than 50% of the true parasite diversity for most carnivores. As expected, parasite species richness declined with evolutionary distinctiveness of carnivore hosts (i.e. length of terminal ranches of the phylogeny) and increased with host species body mass and geographic range area. We did not find hosts from more diverse lineages to support a higher number of generalist parasites, thus rejected the hypothesis that the observed association between parasite diversity and host distinctiveness is generated by that closely related host species have higher frequencies of parasite sharing. However, we did find that stronger male-biased sexual dimorphism was displayed by host species harboring large parasite diversity, suggesting the negative association between parasite diversity and host evolutionary distinctiveness is due to parasites driving host diversification through host sexual selection. Collectively, this work provides strong support for host evolutionary history being an essential predictor of parasite diversity, and offers a simple model for predicting parasite diversity in understudied carnivore species. We also demonstrate here the utility of diversity estimators for global-scale parasite datasets from heterogeneous sources.