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Effect of the cestode macroparasite Schistocephalus pungitii on the reproductive success of ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius

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Abstract:

We quantified the relationship between reproductive status in the ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius (L., 1758), and parasitism by plerocercoids of the cestode Schistocephalus pungitii Dubinina, 1959 in Airolo Lake, Alaska, using fish specimens from the 1994, 1998, and 2000 reproductive seasons. Infected females were inhibited from producing clutches of eggs and infected males showed much-reduced testicular condition. These deleterious effects on reproduction appear to involve nutrient theft. In addition, there appears to be a greater physical effect of the parasites crushing the gonads of host fish. The results of this study support the theoretical prediction that S. pungitii is a parasitic castrator, as the fitness of the majority of infected female ninespine stickleback was apparently reduced to zero, and there may be a similar effect among the majority of male ninespine stickleback. The symptoms of infection may represent adaptive parasite manipulations resulting in larger, more fecund parasites or an extended parasite-transmission period, although the possibility that the symptoms represent nonadaptive side effects cannot be excluded.

Nous avons mesuré la relation entre le statut reproducteur de l'épinoche à neuf épines, Pungitius pungitius (L., 1758), et le parasitisme par les plécocercoïdes du cestode Schistocephalus pungitii Dubinina, 1959 dans le lac Airolo, Alaska, chez des poissons des saisons de reproduction 1994, 1998 et 2000. Les femelles infectées n'arrivent pas à produire de masses d'oeufs et les mâles ont des testicules très réduits. Ces effets négatifs sur la reproduction semblent impliquer une appropriation de nutriments. De plus, il semble y avoir un effet physique plus important par l'écrasement des gonades du poisson hôte par les parasites. Les résultats de notre étude appuient la prédiction théorique que S. pungitii est un parasite castreur, car la fitness de la majorité des épinoches à neuf épines femelles infectées est apparemment réduite à néant et il peut y avoir un effet similaire chez la majorité des épinoches mâles. Les symptômes de l'infection peuvent représenter des manipulations adaptatives du parasite qui lui procurent une taille et une fécondité plus grandes ou alors une prolongation de sa période de transmission. On ne peut cependant pas exclure qu'il puisse s'agir d'effets secondaires sans valeur adaptative.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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