Dining on disease: How interactions between infection and environment affect predation risk

Pieter T.J. Johnson, Daniel E. Stanton, Eric R. Preu, Kenneth J. Forshay, Stephen R. Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Despite growing interest in ecological interactions between predators and pathogens, few studies have experimentally examined the consequences of infection for host predation risk or how environmental conditions affect this relationship. Here we combined mesocosm experiments, in situ foraging data, and broad-scale lake surveys to evaluate (1) the effects of chytrid infection (Polycaryum laeve) on susceptibility of Daphnia to fish predators and (2) how environmental characteristics moderate the strength of this interaction. In mesocosms, bluegill preferred infected Daphnia 2-5 times over uninfected individuals. Among infected Daphnia, infection intensity was a positive predictor of predation risk, whereas carapace size and fecundity increased predation on uninfected individuals. Wild-caught yellow perch and bluegill from in situ foraging trials exhibited strong selectivity for infected Daphnia (3-10 times over uninfected individuals). In mesocosms containing water high in dissolved organic carbon (DOC), however, selective predation on infected Daphnia was eliminated. Correspondingly, lakes that supported chytrid infections had higher DOC levels and lower light penetration. Our results emphasize the strength of interactions between parasitism and predation while highlighting the moderating influence of water color. P. laeve increases the conspicuousness and predation risk of Daphnia; as a result, infected Daphnia occur predominantly in environments with characteristics that conceal their elevated visibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1973-1980
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bluegill and yellow perch
  • Chytridiomycota
  • Daphnia pulicaria
  • Disease affects predator-prey relationship
  • Interactions among parasites, prey, and predators
  • Parasitism
  • Predator-prey interactions
  • Selective predation
  • Wisconsin (USA) lakes


Dive into the research topics of 'Dining on disease: How interactions between infection and environment affect predation risk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this