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Should I stay or should I go? Causes and dynamics of host desertion by a parasitic crab living on echinoids
De Bruyn, C.; David, B.; Motreuil, S.; Caulier, G.; Jossart, Q.; Rigaud, T.; De Ridder, C. (2016). Should I stay or should I go? Causes and dynamics of host desertion by a parasitic crab living on echinoids. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 546: 163-171. https://hdl.handle.net/10.3354/meps11616
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 292485 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Symbiosis; Dissodactylus primitivus Bouvier, 1917 [WoRMS]; Echinoidea [WoRMS]; Meoma ventricosa (Lamarck, 1816) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Mobile invertebrates; Host-switching; Mating systems; Pea crab; Echinoid

Authors  Top 
  • De Bruyn, C., more
  • David, B.
  • Motreuil, S.
  • Caulier, G., more
  • Jossart, Q., more
  • Rigaud, T.
  • De Ridder, C., more

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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