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Infection, specificity and host manipulation of Australapatemon sp. (Trematoda, Strigeidae) in two sympatric species of leeches (Hirudinea)
- KARVONEN, ANSSI, FALTÝNKOVÁ, ANNA, CHOO, JOCELYN MAH, VALTONEN, E. TELLERVO
- Parasitology 2017 v.144 no.10 pp. 1346-1355
- Hirudinea, Strigeidae, alternative hosts, birds, evolution, freshwater, host-parasite relationships, interspecific variation, parasites, phenotype, predation, space and time, sympatry
- Factors that drive parasite specificity and differences in infection dynamics among alternative host species are important for ecology and evolution of host–parasite interactions, but still often poorly known in natural systems. Here, we investigated spatiotemporal dynamics of infection, host susceptibility and parasite-induced changes in host phenotype in a rarely explored host–parasite system, the Australapatemon sp. trematode infecting two sympatric species of freshwater leeches, Erpobdella octoculata and Helobdella stagnalis. We show significant variation in infection abundance between the host species in both space and time. Using experimental infections, we also show that most of this variation likely comes from interspecific differences in exposure rather than susceptibility. Moreover, we demonstrate that the hiding behaviour of E. octoculata, but not that of H. stagnalis, was impaired by the infection irrespective of the parasite abundance. This may increase susceptibility of E. octoculata to predation by the final avian host. We conclude that differences in patterns of infection and in behavioural alterations among alternative sympatric host species may arise in narrow spatial scales, which emphasises the importance of local infection and transmission dynamics for parasite life cycles.