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Altered host behaviour: manipulation or energy depletion in tapeworm-infected copepods?

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Franz,  K.
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Kurtz,  J.
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Franz, K., & Kurtz, J. (2002). Altered host behaviour: manipulation or energy depletion in tapeworm-infected copepods? Parasitology, 125, 187-196. doi:10.1017/S0031182002001932.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-DD13-8
Abstract
Parasites are able to influence intermediate hosts in a way that optimizes their growth and transmission to the next host. Macrocyclops albidus (Copepoda) suffer from a reduced escaping ability and an increased level of general activity, when infected with Schistocephalus solidus (Cestoda). This facilitates predation by the subsequent host, the three-spined stickleback. However, instead of adaptive host manipulation by the tapeworm, the altered copepod behaviour might be explained more simply as a constraint of the infection. Energy depletion could lead to decreased muscle performance and increased food searching activity. Furthermore, resource allocation among host tissues might change after infection. We therefore analysed the amount of storage lipids and muscle tissue before and after experimental infection. To determine the amount of muscles, we developed a new polarization-microscopic technique. Irrespective of infection, lipids and muscles were predictors of copepod survival. However, we found no effect of the parasite infection on muscles or lipids, and no indication of a change in resource allocation between these tissues. Our study suggests that behavioural changes in infected copepods are mediated by a mechanism different from energy depletion or a re-allocation of resources between muscles and lipids. We rather propose that the tapeworms directly manipulate copepod behaviour.