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Mutual dilution of infection by an introduced parasite in native and invasive stream fishes across Hawaii

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2016

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, Tulane University, 627 Lindy Boggs, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
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The presence of introduced hosts can increase or decrease infections of co-introduced parasites in native species of conservation concern. In this study, we compared parasite abundance, intensity, and prevalence between native Awaous stamineus and introduced poeciliid fishes by a co-introduced nematode parasite (Camallanus cotti) in 42 watersheds across the Hawaiian Islands. We found that parasite abundance, intensity and prevalence were greater in native than introduced hosts. Parasite abundance, intensity and prevalence within A. stamineus varied between years, which largely reflected a transient spike in infection in three remote watersheds on Molokai. At each site we measured host factors (length, density of native host, density of introduced host) and environmental factors (per cent agricultural and urban land use, water chemistry, watershed area and precipitation) hypothesized to influence C. cotti abundance, intensity and prevalence. Factors associated with parasitism differed between native and introduced hosts. Notably, parasitism of native hosts was higher in streams with lower water quality, whereas parasitism of introduced hosts was lower in streams with lower water quality. We also found that parasite burdens were lower in both native and introduced hosts when coincident. Evidence of a mutual dilution effect indicates that introduced hosts can ameliorate parasitism of native fishes by co-introduced parasites, which raises questions about the value of remediation actions, such as the removal of introduced hosts, in stemming the rise of infectious disease in species of conservation concern.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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