Facultative parasitism by the bivalve Kurtiella pedroana in the sand crab Emerita analoga

Journal of Parasitology
By: , and 



It is rare that an organism capable of independent or commensalistic existence can also become endoparasitic on a host. In this study, we documented a potential step toward parasitism in the commensal clam Kurtiella pedroana (Bivalvia: Galeommatoidea). Galeommatoideans are known commensals of various invertebrates, including crustaceans. Emerita analoga (Decapoda: Hippidae) is an abundant intertidal decapod inhabiting sandy beaches of the Pacific coast of North and South America. Crabs collected from Monterey Bay, California, were measured and examined externally and internally for associated molluscs. Out of the 520 crabs, 37 large female individuals harbored 49 bivalves (prevalence of 7.11% and mean intensity of 1.3). Forty-one ectocommensal clams were either inside the crab's branchial chambers or on their lateroventral surfaces, and were attached by byssal threads. Our key finding was eight clams that lacked byssal threads and were living in the hemocoel. These internal clams were significantly smaller than the ectocommensals. Because these internal clams lacked access to their normal food, we hypothesize they might have fed on their host's hemolymph as would a parasite. This clam species likely can't reproduce inside its host, implying that endoparasitism is a dead-end state for K. pedroana. Facultative parasitism in a free-living or an ectocommensal is uncommon and suggests a pathway to parasitism.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Facultative parasitism by the bivalve Kurtiella pedroana in the sand crab Emerita analoga
Series title Journal of Parasitology
DOI 10.1645/17-28
Volume 103
Issue 6
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Society of Parasitologists
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 6 p.
First page 646
Last page 651
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