, Volume 101, Issue 6, pp 1647-1655
Date: 23 Aug 2007

Cestode parasitism in invasive and native brine shrimps (Artemia spp.) as a possible factor promoting the rapid invasion of A. franciscana in the Mediterranean region

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Artemia franciscana is an invasive crustacean expanding its range in hypersaline wetlands in the Mediterranean region and replacing native Artemia parthenogenetica and Artemia salina. Native brine shrimps are known as intermediate hosts of cestodes; infected individuals exhibit changes in their behaviour and appearance, thus facilitating the parasite transmission to the avian hosts by predation. To assess whether invasive brine shrimps participate in the cestode life cycles to the same extent as the native species, we examined the natural infections in seven populations of Artemia spp. along the southern coast of Spain and Portugal: three populations of each A. franciscana and A. parthenogenetica and one population of A. salina. Ten cestode species were found in A. parthenogenetica, while only six were recorded in each of A. salina and A. franciscana. The overall infection was consistently higher in native than in invasive populations. For a particular cestode species, the prevalence or abundance was significantly higher in a native population for 54 pairwise comparisons and only higher for an invasive population for 4 pairwise comparisons. These results suggest that cestodes may influence competitive interactions between native and invasive brine shrimps, thus partly explaining the invasive success of A. franciscana.