The effect of geographical distance on similarity in parasite communities of freshwater fish has received considerable attention in recent years, and it has become evident that these apparently simple relationships are influenced by, among other things, colonization ability of parasites and degree of connectivity between the populations. In the present paper, we explored qualitative and quantitative similarity in the intestinal parasite communities of pike (Esox lucius) in a particular system where previously interconnected groups of lakes became isolated ca. 8,400 yr ago. Contrary to our expectations, we did not find differences in similarity between the lake groups or a negative effect of distance among the populations. This supports the role of common ancestral colonization events and shows that no significant loss of species has occurred during the past 8,000 yr. However, the communities were dominated by a single parasite species, the cestode Triaenophorus nodulosus. The exclusion of this species from the data had a significant negative impact on the community similarities and also revealed a negative relationship between distance and quantitative similarity. This suggests that patterns of community organization may be obscured by a single dominant species. We also highlight the need for further studies in different systems and host species, as well as detailed re-analysis of existing data sets, to unravel the controversy in the relationship between distance and similarity in parasite communities.
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