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Should I stay or should I go? Causes and dynamics of host desertion by a parasitic crab living on echinoids.

Abstract : In some long-living symbiotic species, movements between hosts are not limited to offspring since adult parasites can move from one individual host to another one. Host-switching may be driven by different parameters such as (1) mating strategies of symbionts, (2) foraging for resources or (3) avoiding overcrowded or diseased/dead host. Symbiotic marine crustaceans are suitable models to understand what underlies host-switching behavior. In this study, we investigated host desertion by the parasitic pea crab Dissodactylus primitivus associated with the echinoid host Meoma ventricosa. Mark-recapture field experiments, during which crabs were almost always found on their host in heterosexual combinations, suggest that host desertion occurs less frequently when 2 crabs (compared to 3) share the same host. During laboratory experiments with high crab density, the proportion of crabs leaving an echinoid was low when the 2 genders of crabs were present on the host, compared to 1 gender only (males or females). This suggests that host desertion is mostly driven by intersex selection and the search for a mate and, to a lesser extent, by competition between crabs. However, both field and laboratory experiments showed evidence that when they switch host, most crabs remained for a while in the sediment underneath their host. We propose that this behavior, associated with the aggregative behavior of their hosts, would allow the crabs to solve the trade-off between staying on their hosts (therefore suffering overcrowding and sub-optimal mate search) and moving too far from the host (therefore suffering loss of food source and high predation risk).
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 28, 2021 - 11:03:05 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 30, 2022 - 4:40:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - 6:11:06 PM


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Colin de Bruyn, Bruno David, Sébastien Motreuil, G. Caulier, Quentin Jossart, et al.. Should I stay or should I go? Causes and dynamics of host desertion by a parasitic crab living on echinoids.. Marine Ecology Progress Series, Inter Research, 2016, 546, pp.163-171. ⟨10.3354/meps11616⟩. ⟨hal-01293933⟩



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