, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp 259-264

Assortative pairing in Gammarus insensibilis (Amphipoda) infected by a trematode parasite

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We have investigated the influence of Microphallus papillorobustus (Trematoda) on the reproductive biology and mating patterns of its intermediate host Gammarus insensibilis (Amphipoda). Infected Gammarus species show altered behaviour which renders them more susceptible to predation by Charadriiform birds, the parasite's definitive hosts. In a natural population of G. insensibilis, mean parasite intensity was higher for unpaired individuals than for paired individuals. Fecundity was reduced in infected amphipods. Size-assortative pairing was significant, although infected males were found with smaller females compared to uninfected males of the same size. There was also a positive assortative pairing by parasitic prevalence. Vertical segregation between infected and uninfected individuals, male-male competition for access to uninfected females, and female choice may explain assortative mating for prevalence. This study provides the first empirical evidence that parasites can have a direct effect on patterns of mating in gammarids.