Abstract We used data on the species composition of regional assemblages of fleas and their small mammalian hosts from 6 biogeographic realms and applied a novel method of step-down factor analyses (SDFA) and cluster analyses to identify biogeographic (across the entire globe) and ecological (within a realm across the main terrestrial biomes) clusters of these assemblages. We found that, at the global scale, the clusters of regional assemblage loadings on SDFA axes reflected well the assemblage distribution, according to the biogeographic realms to which they belong. At the global scale, the cluster topology, corresponding to the biogeographic realms, was similar between flea and host assemblages, but the topology of subtrees within realm-specific clusters substantially differed between fleas and hosts. At the scale of biogeographic realms, the distribution of regional flea and host assemblages did not correspond to the predominant biome types. Assemblages with similar loadings on SDFA axes were often situated in different biomes and vice versa. The across-biome, within-realm distributions of flea vs host assemblages suggested weak congruence between these distributions. Our results indicate that dispersal is a predominant mechanism of flea and host community assembly across large regions.
- Biogeographic realms
- step-down factor analysis
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases
- Animal Science and Zoology