Studies on parasite-mediated selection often focus on single parasite taxa infecting single species of hosts. However, host populations experience infections by multiple parasite taxa simultaneously; coinfection is expected to influence how host- and/or parasite-related factors affect host exposure and susceptibility to various parasites, and the resulting patterns of infection. We sampled adult dragonflies from a population of Leucorrhinia intacta (Hagen) in eastern Ontario, Canada. Dragonflies were exposed to parasitism by both water mites (Arrenuridae) and gregarines (Eugregarinidae). We tested for covariation between these ecto- and endoparasites, while considering potential sex and age biases in host sampling and patterns of infection. Mite parasitism differed dramatically between host sexes: nearly all collected males were parasitized, whereas only half of females were infested. This was likely due to differences in age distributions between sexes in sampled dragonflies. Water mite and gregarine parasitism showed strong, negative covariation, and coinfection occurred far less often than expected by chance, although these patterns were restricted to samples of females which, unlike male samples, likely included many old and young dragonflies. We report the first observation of negative covariation between internal and external parasite taxa in an anisopteran host and suggest this relationship between water mites and gregarines may be more widespread among Odonata and perhaps other insects than previously surmised. We advance hypotheses based on host age-parasitism relationships as well as variable parasite-mediated selection to help explain the sex specificity of observed coinfection patterns in our samples.

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Parasitology Research
Department of Biology

Kaunisto, K.M. (Kari M.), Morrill, A. (André), & Forbes, M. (2018). Negative covariance between water mite and gregarine parasitism for adult dragonflies, Leucorrhinia intacta (Hagen): an age-related pattern?. Parasitology Research. doi:10.1007/s00436-018-6100-7