Evol Ecol Res 8: 871-879 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Host manipulation by parasites and risk of non-host predation: is manipulation costly in an eye fluke–fish interaction?

Otto Seppälä,* Anssi Karvonen and E. Tellervo Valtonen

Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, FIN-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: otseppal@cc.jyu.fi


Question: Is host manipulation by a trophically transmitted parasite costly in terms of non-host predation?

Organisms: A trematode eye fluke (Diplostomum spathaceum), its rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) intermediate host and pike (Esox lucius) non-host predator.

Background: The parasite has been shown to increase the vulnerability of fish to simulated avian predation by impairing fish vision. However, this may also predispose fish to non-host predators such as piscivorous fish, which would lead to transmission failure and could override the benefits of manipulation.

Methods: In a laboratory experiment, we predisposed pairs consisting of one infected and one uninfected rainbow trout to predation by pike, and recorded their preference between prey types.

Results: Infected and uninfected fish did not differ in their susceptibility to piscine predation.

Conclusions: Together with previous results, our findings suggest that manipulation of a fish host increases the probability of parasite transmission to bird hosts, and thus can be a parasite strategy evolved to enhance transmission.

Keywords: Diplostomum spathaceum, parasite–host interactions, transmission, Trematoda.

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