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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 636:91-106 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13214

Host-switching among crabs: species introduction results in a new target host for native parasites

A. M. H. Blakeslee1,*, R. B. Barnard1, K. Matheson2, C. H. McKenzie2

1Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
2Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. John’s, Newfoundland, A1A 5J7, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Invasive species can introduce parasites to, and/or acquire new parasites from, novel regions, thereby greatly influencing community interactions, including symbiotic relationships involving parasites. Host-switching of native and non-native parasites could enhance or dilute parasite transmission and spread among hosts. We investigated the effect of host invasion on trematode parasitism in 2 Newfoundland (Canada) bays: one invaded by European green crabs Carcinus maenas and the other not yet invaded. To determine the influence of C. maenas on host-parasite relationships, we assessed trematode prevalence in 3 native hosts: 2 Littorina spp. snails and Atlantic rock crabs Cancer irroratus (first- and second-intermediate hosts for microphallid trematodes, respectively). We found no difference in trematode prevalence between the bays among the 4 host species. However, cyst abundance was significantly higher in C. maenas versus C. irroratus in the bay where the crab distributions overlap, while it was lower in C. irroratus in the invaded versus uninvaded bay, suggesting a dilution of infection in the native host. Sequencing data of microphallid trematodes detected 4 genetically divergent lineages: a cosmopolitan lineage found in all host species; 2 lineages dominant in C. irroratus, suggesting a native origin for the trematodes that now use C. maenas as an additional host; and 1 lineage represented just in C. maenas in Europe. This is the first study to demonstrate the magnitude of trematode infection in crab hosts in Newfoundland, including the commercially valuable native C. irroratus. Our results demonstrate the influence that species introductions can have on parasite life cycles in native systems under recent host invasion.


KEY WORDS: Invasion · Dilution · Trematode · Carcinus maenas · Cancer irroratus · Littorina · Newfoundland


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Cite this article as: Blakeslee AMH, Barnard RB, Matheson K, McKenzie CH (2020) Host-switching among crabs: species introduction results in a new target host for native parasites. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 636:91-106. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13214

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