Behavioral changes in the grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio (Holthuis), induced by the parasitic isopod, Probopyrus pandalicola (Packard)

Program in Ecology and Evolution, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA; Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102, USA
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (Impact Factor: 2.26). 01/1999; DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0981(99)00084-2

ABSTRACT Preliminary observations indicated that the grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio, parasitized by the isopod, Probopyrus pandalicola, captured significantly fewer prey items (Daphnia) and exhibited reduced activity compared to unparasitized conspecifics. Further research focused on elucidating the factors involved in altering the shrimp’s behavior. When viewed from above in an opaque container, activity levels of parasitized shrimp were considerably lower than unparasitized shrimp; however, when viewed from the side in a glass container, differences in activity were also seen, but not under all circumstances. In response to the observer above, the parasitized shrimp reduced their activity disproportionately. When (in the opaque tank) prey capture of Artemia was examined, there was no difference between parasitized and unparasitized shrimp’s capture rate. This is attributable to the greater activity of Artemia, which makes them more likely than Daphnia to encounter a relatively inactive predator. There was not a significant difference in prey capture when Cyprinodon larvae were used as prey and tanks were not observed from above. When predator avoidance was studied using mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus), we expected that the more conspicuous parasitized shrimp would be preyed upon more, but this was not the case. Their lowered activity in the presence of a predator apparently reduced their conspicuousness, so that they were not preyed on more than the unparasitized shrimp.

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