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Altered Behavior of Parasitized Killifish Increases Susceptibility to Predation by Bird Final Hosts

Kevin D. Lafferty and A. Kimo Morris
Ecology
Vol. 77, No. 5 (Jul., 1996), pp. 1390-1397
DOI: 10.2307/2265536
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265536
Page Count: 8
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Altered Behavior of Parasitized Killifish Increases Susceptibility to Predation by Bird Final Hosts
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Abstract

Parasites that are transmitted from prey to predator are often associated with altered prey behavior. Although many concur that behavior modification is a parasite strategy that facilitates transmission by making parasitized prey easier for predators to capture, there is little evidence from field experiments. We observed that conspicuous behaviors exhibited by killfish (Fundulus parvipinnis) were associated with parasitism by larval trematodes. A field experiment indicated that parasitized fish were substantially more susceptible to predation by final host birds. These results support the behavior-modification hypothesis and emphasize the importance of parasites for predator-prey interactions.

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