Parasites: A boon or bane to the host population?


New work from the Gregor Fussmann Lab in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: One of the basic tenets of ecological theory is that connectivity among small populations over a larger landscape (metapopulations) promote species persistence. In this experiment we investigate to what degree and under what conditions this theory holds true when parasites are added to the equation, using lab-based populations of guppies and their ectoparasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli. We find that parasites also benefit from connectivity through prolonged persistence, and that the outcome of which species “wins” or “loses” in terms of survivorship and morbidity is dependent upon the initial burden and distribution of parasites within the system.

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