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Influence of host profitability and microenvironmental conditions on parasite specialization on a main and an alternative hosts



Influence of host profitability and microenvironmental conditions on parasite specialization on a main and an alternative hosts



Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24(6): 1212-1225



Parasite success depends on both host profitability and the microenvironment provided by the host, which together define host-parasite compatibility and can differ between hosts. We experimentally disentangled the effects of host profitability and microenvironmental conditions provided by nest material on the reproduction of a nest-based ectoparasite when exploiting its main and an alternative avian host species. Parasite reproductive performance was similar on both hosts when breeding in nests of their own species, suggesting no difference in host-parasite compatibility between hosts. The apparent parasite specialization could therefore result from differences in host-parasite encounter processes. However, when hosts were successful, the main host produced more young in infested nests, whereas the alternative host produced less; furthermore, host reproductive performance was higher in nests of the main host species, suggesting that this nest material alleviates parasitism cost. Therefore, our results suggest different evolutionary responses to parasites of the main and alternative hosts, with either higher tolerance or higher resistance, modulated by nest material.

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Accession: 037433892

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 21418114

DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02252.x



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