Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 October 2012
Host exploitation induces host defence responses and competition between parasites, resulting in individual parasites facing highly variable environments. Alternative life strategies may thus be expressed in context-dependent ways, depending on which host species is used and intra-host competition between parasites. Coitocaecum parvum (Trematode) can use facultative progenesis in amphipod intermediate hosts, Paracalliope fluviatilis, to abbreviate its life cycle in response to such environmental factors. Coitocaecum parvum also uses another amphipod host, Paracorophium excavatum, a species widely different in size and ecology from P. fluviatilis. In this study, parasite infection levels and strategies in the two amphipod species were compared to determine whether the adoption of progenesis by C. parvum varied between these two hosts. Potential differences in size and/or egg production between C. parvum individuals according to amphipod host species were also investigated. Results show that C. parvum life strategy was not influenced by host species. In contrast, host size significantly affected C. parvum strategy, size and egg production. Since intra-host interactions between co-infecting parasites also influenced C. parvum strategy, size and fecundity, it is highly likely that within-host resource limitations affect C. parvum life strategy and overall fitness regardless of host species.