High prevalence of cestodes in Artemia spp. throughout the annual cycle: relationship with abundance of avian final hosts
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- Sánchez, M.I., Nikolov, P.N., Georgieva, D.D. et al. Parasitol Res (2013) 112: 1913. doi:10.1007/s00436-013-3347-x
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Brine shrimp, Artemia spp., act as intermediate hosts for a range of cestode species that use waterbirds as their final hosts. These parasites can have marked influences on shrimp behavior and fecundity, generating the potential for cascading effects in hypersaline food webs. We present the first comprehensive study of the temporal dynamics of cestode parasites in natural populations of brine shrimp throughout the annual cycle. Over a 12-month period, clonal Artemia parthenogenetica were sampled in the Odiel marshes in Huelva, and the sexual Artemia salina was sampled in the Salinas de Cerrillos in Almería. Throughout the year, 4–45 % of A. parthenogenetica were infected with cestodes (mean species richness = 0.26), compared to 27–72 % of A. salina (mean species richness = 0.64). Ten cestode species were recorded. Male and female A. salina showed similar levels of parasitism. The most prevalent and abundant cestodes were those infecting the most abundant final hosts, especially the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber. In particular, the flamingo parasite Flamingolepis liguloides had a prevalence of up to 43 % in A. parthenogenetica and 63.5 % in A. salina in a given month. Although there was strong seasonal variation in prevalence, abundance, and intensity of cestode infections, seasonal changes in bird counts were weak predictors of the dynamics of cestode infections. However, infection levels of Confluaria podicipina in A. parthenogenetica were positively correlated with the number of their black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis hosts. Similarly, infection levels of Anomotaenia tringae and Anomotaenia microphallos in A. salina were correlated with the number of shorebird hosts present the month before. Correlated seasonal transmission structured the cestode community, leading to more multiple infections than expected by chance.