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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 428:187-199 (2011)  -  DOI:

Distribution of parasites in their second ­intermediate host, the cockle Cerastoderma edule: community heterogeneity and spatial scale

X. de Montaudouin*, L. Lanceleur

Université Bordeaux 1, UMR EPOC 5805 CNRS, Station Marine d’Arcachon, 2 rue du Pr Jolyet, 33120 Arcachon, France

ABSTRACT: We studied the spatial heterogeneity of infection of the marine bivalve Cerastoderma edule (cockle) by trematode parasites at 5 different scales in Banc d’Arguin, France. At the km-scale, the communities of trematodes differed among stations in terms of species composition and specific abundance. Infection heterogeneity was likely due to the occurrence of the definitive host and the conditions of transmission (water parameters). At the 100 m scale, trematode species richness was similar among stations, but specific trematode abundances differed. The most significant variable in terms of explaining trematode infection heterogeneity was the presence of the first intermediate host. At the 10 m scale, the distance at which parasite abundance diminished varied according to trematode species. When an intense source of trematode larvae (cercariae) emission was suspected, this abundance was maintained within ca. 20 m. Outside this area, parasite abundance progressively dropped. We found a higher aggregation in parasite distribution at the 100 m scale than at the 10 m scale using a community aggregation measure. At the cm-scale, the parasite species richness was similar in all cockles but parasite abundance differed in relation to distance when the parasites were shed by a sedentary host compared to a motile host. Observed differences of infection could also be due to intrinsic factors (life history, immune system) as suggested by an experimental infestation where cockles challenged in similar conditions displayed different parasite loads. We demonstrated that high heterogeneity of parasite infection in cockles should be taken into account in studies concerning the role of parasites in ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Spatial heterogeneity · Aggregation pattern · Parasitism · Cerastoderma edule · ­Sampling scale

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Cite this article as: de Montaudouin X, Lanceleur L (2011) Distribution of parasites in their second ­intermediate host, the cockle Cerastoderma edule: community heterogeneity and spatial scale. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 428:187-199.

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