Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Patterns of Infection by Sacculina carcini Based on Tidal Elevation

Even though the patterns of the parasite, Sacculina carcini, along intertidal regions has been studied extensively, there has been little to no research on how tidal elevation affects distribution and abundance of this parasite in these locations. However, one study was performed that looked at the distribution of shore crabs, Carcinus maenas, that are infected with Sacculina carcini along a tidal elevation gradient in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Of the 27,629 crabs that were investigated, most of the infected crabs were found in subtidal gullies with almost no infected crabs on intertidal bare sand flats or mussel beds. This distribution most likely resulted from manipulation from the parasite that causes the crab to begin to act like an egg-bearing female that needs to migrate to deeper waters as this behavior is seen in non-infected females. The prevalence of these infected crabs in these gullies was also dependent on water depth and salinity of the water. Since both water depth and salinity will affect the survival of the crab larva and the parasite's larva, the migration of these females and infected crabs would be more favorable if these crabs moved to an environment that has more favorable conditions. By causing their host to move to these areas that have more favorable conditions, the parasite insures that the survival rate of its larva is increased and that the dispersal rate of these larva is increased. So over all, the parasite manipulating its host to move to different locations of the intertidal region is a major benefit for the parasite and is part of the changes that this parasite makes to its host. Waser AM, Goedknegt MA, Dekker R, McSweeney N, Witte JIJ, van der Meer J, Thieltges DW (2016) Tidal elevation and parasitism: patterns of infection by the rhizocephalan parasite Sacculina carcini in shore crabs Carcinus maenas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 545:215-22

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