Parasite survey of a Daphnia hybrid complex: host-specificity and environment determine infection
Justyna Wolinska, Department of Biology, Indiana University, 1001 East 3rd Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA. E-mail: email@example.com
- 1Hybridization between species is a common phenomenon in plants and animals. If parasite prevalence differs for hybrids and parental species (i.e. taxa) there may be considerable consequences for relative hybrid fitness. Some studies have investigated hybrid complexes for infection, and complex-specific differences in parasite prevalence have been detected.
- 2Based on the results of a field study on a hybridizing Daphnia population from a single lake, it has been hypothesized that permanently over- or under-infected hybrids do not exist. The observed field-patterns can only be temporal because taxa, in addition to single genotypes, might be the subject of parasite driven host frequency-dependent selection. Thus, parasites will track any common taxon within a hybrid complex.
- 3In the present study, hybridizing Daphnia populations from 43 lakes were screened for parasite infections to obtain indirect evidence for coevolutionary cycles. It was hypothesized that, due to time lags between the evolution of resistance in host populations and the evolution of the parasite towards tracking of a common host taxon, the same Daphnia taxon will be over-infected in some lakes, while being under-infected in others.
- 4Two of the four parasite species were specialists: their prevalence differed among coexisting Daphnia taxa. The varying infection patterns detected across spatially segregated hybridizing Daphnia populations are consistent with theoretical predictions for coevolutionary cycles. Thus the infection patterns, as observed under natural conditions, are temporal and unstable.
- 5Additionally, the spatial distribution of the four parasite species was analysed with respect to habitat differences. The results show that the presence of a particular parasite on a host taxon was determined not only by the host-specificity of the parasite, but also by host-habitat relations.