Out of sight: do eye flukes alter predator-prey interactions?

Tue16  Apr12:33pm(3 mins)
Renold C9


M L Huggins1; R A Paterson1
1 Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, UK


Diplostomum spp. are common and widespread parasites of freshwater fish, with eye and brain infections resulting in lens cataracts, blindness and host mortality. Whilst Diplostomum are well known to modify the 'prey' behaviour of their second intermediate fish host to facilitate transmission to their definitive avian host; the effects of Diplostomum on the 'predator' behaviour of their fish host has rarely been explored. Here we assessed how Diplostomum infections influenced the consumer functional response ofthree-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) towards Daphnia prey. Our results indicate the impact of Diplostomum infection on the consumer functional response of their fish host may differ with prey size. This suggests Diplostomum induced changes in the prey choice of their fish host, leading to preferential selection of large prey species, may release small prey species from the direct impacts of predation. This research highlights a hidden consequence of Diplostomum infection on predator-prey interactions in aquatic ecosystems.

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