Processes that occur both within and between hosts can influence the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of symbionts, a broad term that includes parasitic and disease-causing organisms. Metacommunity theory can integrate these local- and regional-scale dynamics to explore symbiont community composition patterns across space. In this article I emphasize that symbionts should be incorporated into the metacommunity concept. I highlight the utility of metacommunity theory by discussing practical and general benefits that emerge from considering symbionts in a metacommunity framework. Specifically, investigating the local and regional drivers of symbiont community and metacommunity structure will lead to a more holistic understanding of symbiont ecology and evolution and could reveal novel insights into the roles of symbiont communities in mediating host health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics