A positive relationship between distribution and local abundance is often observed among species in a community. The resource-breadth hypothesis suggests that this pattern is the result of differential abilities among species to utilize available resources, such that generalists are widely distributed and locally abundant, and specialists are narrowly distributed and locally sparse. This hypothesis was tested in a community consisting of 22 species or morphospecies of parasites infecting members of 18 species of fish among 14 sites in 7 small streams in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. A positive relationship between distribution (fraction of sites occupied) and abundance (average local abundance) was evident among parasite species. The number of host species infected by each parasite species was positively related to both distribution and average local abundance; both relationships held after statistical removal of the distribution and abundance of the hosts, respectively. These results support the resource-breadth hypothesis as an explanation for the distribution–abundance relationship in this system.

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