This study explores non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) as a tool for investigating parasites as indicators of the elasmobranch biology. An attractive feature of nMDS is its ability to allow assemblage-level parasite data to be simultaneously applied to questions of host biology. This method was examined using the tapeworm order Trypanorhyncha Diesing, 1863, which is known to be transmitted among their hosts through the marine food web (via predation), can unambiguously be identified in the intermediate and final hosts, and has the potential as an indicator of the host feeding biology. Our analyses focused on trypanorhynch assemblages in elasmobranchs as definitive hosts. The relationships between trypanorhynch assemblages and the depth, feeding ecology, habitat, and phylogeny for all sharks were complex, but we found that depth distribution, diet composition and habitat type were the major influencing factors. Several species of sharks showed different characters than known from their descriptions that could be attributed to the change of shark behavior or the trypanorhynch host path. The relationship between the trypanorhynch assemblage and factors for carcharhiniform species alone was more robust than for all sharks. In the carcharhiniform analysis, the relationship between habitat type and trypanorhynch assemblage was most remarkable. Overlapping host ecology was evident even in phylogenetically-distant related hosts.
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