Recent studies highlight the need to include estimates of detection/capture probability in population studies. This need is particularly important in studies where detection and/or capture probability is influenced by parasite-induced behavioral alterations. We assessed potential biases associated with sampling a population of the amphipod Gammarus lacustris in the presence of Polymorphus spp. acanthocephalan parasites shown to increase positive phototaxis in their amphipod hosts. We trapped G. lacustris at two water depths (benthic and surface) and compared number of captures and number of parasitized individuals at each depth. While we captured the greatest number of G. lacustris individuals in benthic traps, parasitized individuals were captured most often in surface traps. These results reflect the phototaxic movement of infected individuals from benthic locations to sunlit surface waters. We then explored the influence of varying infection rates on a simulated population held at a constant level of abundance. Simulations resulted in increasingly biased abundance estimates as infection rates increased. Our results highlight the need to consider parasite-induced biases when quantifying detection and/or capture probability in studies of aquatic invertebrate populations.
Additional publication details
Potential for parasite-induced biases in aquatic invertebrate population studies