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Trematode cercariae as prey for zooplankton: effect on fitness traits of predators

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 June 2018

Ekaterina Mironova
A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskij prosp., 33, 119071 Moscow, Russia
Mikhail Gopko
A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskij prosp., 33, 119071 Moscow, Russia
Anna Pasternak
Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nahimovskiy prosp., 36, 117997 Moscow, Russia
Viktor Mikheev
A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskij prosp., 33, 119071 Moscow, Russia
Jouni Taskinen
Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, FIN-40014, Finland
E-mail address:


Removal of parasite free-living stages by predators has previously been suggested an important factor controlling parasite transmission in aquatic habitats. Experimental studies of zooplankton predation on macroparasite larvae are, however, scarce. We tested whether trematode cercariae, which are often numerous in shallow waters, are suitable prey for syntopic zooplankters. Feeding rates and survival of freshwater cyclopoids (Megacyclops viridis, Macrocyclops distinctus), calanoids (Arctodiaptomus paulseni), cladocerans (Sida crystallina) and rotifers Asplanchna spp., fed with cercariae of Diplostomum pseudospathaceum, a common fish trematode, were studied. In additional long-term experiments, we studied reproduction of cyclopoids fed with cercariae. All tested zooplankton species consumed cercariae. The highest feeding rates were observed for cyclopoids (33 ± 12 cercariae ind−1 h−1), which actively reproduced (up to one egg clutch day−1) when fed ad libitum with cercariae. Their reproductive characteristics did not change significantly with time, indicating that cercariae supported cyclopoids’ dietary needs. Mortality of rotifers and cladocerans was high (25–28% individuals) when exposed to cercariae in contrast to cyclopoids and calanoids (<2%). Cercariae clogged the filtration apparatus of cladocerans and caused internal injuries in predatory rotifers, which ingested cercariae. Observed trophic links between common freshwater zooplankters and cercariae may significantly influence food webs and parasite transmission in lentic ecosystems.

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