Parasites alter the reproductive performance of their hosts, limit their growth, and thereby modify the energy budget of these hosts. Experimental studies and theoretical models suggest that the outcome of the host-parasite interactions could be determined by ecological factors such as food availability levels in the local habitats. Nutrient inputs may affect the host's food resource availability with positive or negative effects on parasite infection rates and tolerance of infection, however this has not been specifically evaluated in natural systems. In this study, we evaluate the effects of parasitism by Proctoeces humboldti on body size, gonadosomatic index (GSI), and metabolic rate (oxygen consumption) of their second intermediate host Fissurella crassa limpets, under contrasting natural conditions of productivity (upwelling center vs upwelling shadow sites). Our results evidenced that parasitized limpets collected from the intertidal habitat influenced by coastal upwelling site showed greater shell length, muscular foot biomass and GSI as compared to non-parasitized limpets collected in the same site, and compared to parasitized and non-parasitized limpets collected from the sites under the influence of upwelling shadow conditions. Oxygen consumption was lower in parasitized limpets collected from the upwelling-influenced site than in the other groups, independent of age, suggesting reduced metabolic stress in infected individuals inhabiting these productive sites. Our results suggest that increased productivity in upwelling sites could mitigate the conflict for resources in the P. humboldti – F. crassa system, influencing where such interaction is found in the continuum between parasitism and mutualism. Since parasitism is ubiquitous in natural systems, and play important roles in ecological and evolutionary processes, it is important to analyze host-parasite interaction across a variety of ecological conditions, especially in biological conservation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science