Parasites that rely on trophic transmission can manipulate the behavior of an intermediate host to compromise the host's antipredator competence and increase the probability of reaching the next host. Selection for parasite manipulation is diminished when there is significant risk of host death to causes other than consumption by a suitable definitive host for the parasite. Consequently, behavioral manipulation by parasites can be expected to be subtle. Ornithodiplostomum ptychocheilus (Op) is a trematode parasite that has a bird-snail-fish host life cycle. Fathead minnows are a common intermediate host of Op, where metacercariae encyst in the minnow brain. In this study, we report a link between metacercarial intensity and behavior in fathead minnows. In the field, we found that roaming distance by free-living minnows over 24 h was negatively correlated with parasite intensity. In the laboratory, we found that boldness in an open field test was positively correlated with parasite intensity. These parasite-induced behavioral changes may render infected minnows more susceptible to predators, which would serve to facilitate trophic transmission of parasites to the bird host.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.