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Does resource availability affect host manipulation? – an experimental test with Schistocephalus solidus

  • NINA HAFER (a1) and DANIEL P. BENESH (a1) (a2)

Summary

Host manipulation is a common strategy of parasites employed to increase their fitness by changing the phenotype of their hosts. Whether host manipulation might be affected by environmental factors such as resource availability, has received little attention. We experimentally infected laboratory-bred copepods with the cestode Schistocephalus solidus, submitted infected and uninfected copepods to either a high or a low food treatment, and measured their behaviour. Infection reduced host activity and speed in both feeding treatments. However, the difference between the infected and uninfected copepods was smaller under low food conditions, because uninfected, but not infected, copepods moved slower under these conditions. We suggest that these differences are mediated by the physical condition of copepods rather than changes in how strongly the parasite manipulated host behaviour. Additionally, we measured three fitness-relevant traits (growth, development and infection rate in the next host) of the parasite to identify potential trade-offs with host manipulation. The largest parasites in copepods appeared the least manipulative, i.e. their hosts showed the smallest behavioural alterations, but this may again reflect variation in copepod condition, rather than life history trade-offs between parasite growth and host manipulation. Our results point to the possibility that parasite transmission depends on environmental conditions.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, August-Thienemann-Straße 2, 24306 Plön, Germany. Phone: + 49 4522 763-347. Fax: +49 4522 763-310. E-mail: hafer@evolbio.mpg.de

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Does resource availability affect host manipulation? – an experimental test with Schistocephalus solidus

  • NINA HAFER (a1) and DANIEL P. BENESH (a1) (a2)

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