Viviparous gyrodactylids are remarkable monogenoid ectoparasites, not only because of their speciousness, but also due to their unusually wide range of hosts. Although many factors have been proposed to determine the location where gyrodactylids attach to their hosts, little is known about how their preference for specific host body regions changes over the course of infection. In this study, we investigate the dynamics of topographical specialization of the parasite Gyrodactylus anisopharynx on 2 of its natural freshwater fish hosts (Corydoras paleatus and C. ehrhardti), as well as a naïve host (C. schwartzi). We recorded the spatial location of this parasite from the foundation of the infrapopulation to its extinction to assess how topographical specialization is affected by host species, the size and the age of the infrapopulation, and the possibility of transmission among hosts. Our results indicate that topographical specialization is negatively correlated with infrapopulation size and only marginally affected by infrapopulation age. Also, the degree of specialization was different among host species, but seemed unaffected by the possibility of transmission among hosts. Therefore, observed changes in spatial specialization of G. anisopharynx do not appear to represent adaptive responses to maximize their transmission. Rather, mechanisms such as increased competition and/ or local immune responses might cause parasites to occupy less favorable regions of the body of their hosts with increasing density.
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