Ecological consequences of manipulative parasites: chapter 9

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Parasitic "puppet masters", with their twisted, self-serving life history strategies and impressive evolutionary takeovers of host minds, capture the imagination of listeners—even those that might not normally fi nd the topic of parasitism appealing (which includes most everyone). A favorite anecdote concerns the trematode Leucochloridium paradoxum migrating to the eyestalks of its intermediate host snail and pulsating its colored body, presumably to attract the predatory birds that are the final hosts for the worm. Identifying a parasite as “manipulative” infers that a change in host behavior or appearance is a direct consequence of the parasite’s adaptive actions that, on average, will increase the fi tness of the parasite. The list of parasites that manipulate their hosts is long and growing. Holmes and Bethel (1972) presented the earliest comprehensive review and brought the subject to mainstream ecologists. Over two decades ago, Andy Dobson (1988) listed seven cestodes, seven trematodes, ten acanthocephalans, and three nematodes that manipulated host behavior. Fifteen years later, Janice Moore (2002) filled a book with examples. The five infectious trophic strategies, typical parasites (macroparasites), pathogens, trophically transmitted parasites, parasitic castrators, and parasitoids (Kuris and Lafferty 2000; Lafferty and Kuris 2002, 2009) can modify host behavior, but the likelihood that a parasite manipulates behavior differs among strategies. The most studied infectious agents, non-trophically transmitted pathogens and macroparasites, have enormous public health, veterinary, and wildlife disease importance, yet few manipulate host behavior. The beststudied manipulative infectious agents are trophically transmitted parasites in their prey intermediate hosts. Parasitoids and parasitic castrators can also manipulate host behavior, but for different purposes and with different implications. Several studies of manipulative parasites conclude with phrases such as “may ultimately infl uence community structure” (Kiesecker and Blaustein 1999), yet few demonstrate ecological effects. Here, we consider the conditions under which manipulative parasites might have a substantial ecological effect in nature and highlight those for which evidence exists (see also Chapter 10).

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Ecological consequences of manipulative parasites: chapter 9
ISBN 978-0-19-964223-6
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publisher location Oxford
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Host manipulation by parasites
First page 158
Last page 168
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