The effect of Hymenolepis diminuta (Cestoda) cysticercoids on the weight change, frass production, and food intake of the intermediate host, Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera)
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- Shea, J.F. Parasitol Res (2005) 98: 1. doi:10.1007/s00436-005-0021-y
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Parasitism results in nutritionally related changes in hosts, often leading to altered feeding behavior. Infected hosts that increase their feeding also increase their probability of reinfection. To study this, I used a beetle (Tenebrio molitor)–tapeworm (Hymenolepis diminuta) system. Infected and uninfected male and female beetles were individually housed in vials with food. Each beetle's weight change, food intake, and frass production were measured over 24-h periods at 3, 7, 12, and 16 days postinfection. Treatment (infection) had no effect on weight change, but males lost more weight and produced more frass than females. Additionally, treatment had no effect on food consumption, but males had a higher food intake than females. These results suggest that infection status will not alter the probability of reinfection, but males will be more susceptible to infection than females. However, despite the male's greater food intake during the experimental infection period, parasite loads did not differ between males and females.