Trematode infection effects on survival and behaviour of Littorina sitkana




Ayala-Diaz, Monica

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Several parasites that require two or more hosts to complete their life cycles are known to manipulate host behaviour, enhancing their transmission to the next host. The intertidal snail, Littorina sitkana, is host to a diverse assemblage of parasites dominated by trematodes. Trematodes often use snails as first intermediate host and vertebrates as definitive host. Trematode infections can affect host behaviours such as dispersal and foraging. I identified four sites in Barkley Sound that varied in trematode prevalence and species richness. I measured dispersal of snails at these sites and in the laboratory to assess effects of trematode infection on behaviour. I measured feeding rate under laboratory conditions. Trematode effects lowered snail grazing activity at three of the four sites studied, suggesting trematode infection lowers feeding rate of L. sitkana, potentially affecting algal composition of the intertidal zone. Infected male snails travelled longer distances in some sites but shorter distances in others. There was an almost significant effect of trematode infection on vertical displacement of L. sitkana in the field. I estimated survival rates on each site through intensive capture-mark-recapture experiments. There was differential survival among sites, but no negative correlation between survival estimates and trematode prevalence.



trematode, Barkley Sound, dispersal, mark-recapture, snail behaviour, snail parasites, survival, foraging, Littorina sitkana, prevalence, WinBUGS