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Journal Article

Acanthocephalan size and sex affect the modification of intermediate host colouration


Benesh,  D. P.
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Benesh, D. P., Seppälä, O., & Valtonen, E. T. (2009). Acanthocephalan size and sex affect the modification of intermediate host colouration. Parasitology, 136(8), 847-854. doi:10.1017/S0031182009006180.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-D59E-7
For trophically transmitted parasites, transitional larval size is often related to fitness. Larger parasites may have higher establishment success and/or adult fecundity, but prolonged growth in the intermediate host increases the risk of failed transmission via natural host mortality. We investigated the relationship between the larval size of all acanthocephalan (Acanthocephalus lucii) and a trait presumably related to transmission, i.e. altered colouration in the isopod intermediate host. In natural collections, big isopods harboured larger worms and had more modified (darker) abdominal colouration than small hosts. Small isopods infected with a male parasite tended to have darker abdominal pigmentation than those infected with a female, but this difference was absent in larger hosts. Female size increases rapidly with host size, so females may have more to gain than males by remaining in and growing mutually small hosts. In experimental infections, a large total parasite volume was associated with darker host respiratory operculae, especially when it was distributed among fewer worms. Our results suggest that host Pigment alteration increases, with parasite size, albiet differently for male and female worths. This may be an adaptive strategy if, as parasites grow, the Potential for additional growth decreases and the likelihood of host mortality increases.