, Volume 160, Issue 10, pp 2763-2773
Date: 18 Jul 2013

Differential effects of temperature variability on the transmission of a marine parasite

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Temperature variability is particularly pronounced in intertidal systems. The importance of considering this variability has been increasingly recognised, especially in the context of climate change and disease dynamics. Here, we investigated the effects of temperature variability on the transmission of the intertidal trematode Maritrema novaezealandensis. The experimental treatments were 15 °C (control), 15 + 5 °C daily, 15 + 10 °C every second day, 15 + 15 °C every third day (overall equal thermal loading), and a heat wave treatment (15 + 10 °C daily). Daily 6 h incubations were carried out corresponding to daytime low tides over a 12-day period. Effects on output of transmission stages (cercariae) from infected Zeacumantus subcarinatus snail hosts and transmission success of cercariae to Paracalliope novizealandiae amphipod hosts were quantified, as well as the survival of amphipods. Results showed differential effects on output and transmission success. The number of cercariae emerging was similar for treatments with equal thermal loading, but was substantially increased in the heat wave treatment. Transmission success was highest and comparable for the treatments with regular daily temperature increases (i.e. 15 + 5 °C and heat wave), compared to other treatments. Amphipod survival was not affected by temperature treatment directly, but by the number of parasites infecting an amphipod, as well as amphipod sex. These results demonstrate that cercarial output depends mostly on total thermal loading, whereas successful infection of amphipods is determined by total time above 15 °C. Repeated exposure to ~25 °C, as expected under a heat wave scenario, therefore increases both transmission pressure and success, and hence, the risk of parasite-induced mortality in amphipods.

Communicated by U. Sommer.