Escape of parasitic water mites from dragonfly predators attacking their damselfly hosts

Nagel, L.; Zanuttig, M.; Forbes, M. R.
March 2011
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Mar2011, Vol. 89 Issue 3, p213
Academic Journal
Many parasites are transmitted trophically, whereas others can either succumb to, or escape from, the predators of their hosts. We examined the extent to which larval arrenurid water mites (Arrenurus planus Marshall, 1908 and Arrenurus pollictus Marshall, 1910) parasitizing lestid damselflies (Lestes forcipatus Rambur, 1842 and Lestes disjunctus Sélys, 1862) escape from predatory libellulid dragonflies that are consuming their hosts. We hypothesized that the brightly coloured mites would be avoided by feeding dragonflies. However, all partially engorged A. pollictus mites were eaten while their host was being consumed in staged predation trials. In contrast, half of the fully engorged mites detached and therefore escaped consumption. Trials with A. planus mites showed that they detached more readily than their congenerics, which may be due to selection on those temporary pond mites to survive desiccation stress following detachment. The effect of dragonfly predation on transitioning of mites from parasitic larvae to their free-living aquatic stages therefore depends on the degree of engorgement and the mite species. Plusieurs parasites sont transmis par voie trophique, alors que d'autres peuvent ou bien être détruits par les prédateurs de leurs hôtes ou leur échapper. Nous examinons dans quelle mesure les larves d'acariens aquatiques arrénuridés (Arrenurus planus Marshall, 1908 et Arrenurus pollictus Marshall, 1910) qui parasitent les zygoptères lestidés (Lestes forcipatus Rambur, 1842 et Lestes disjunctus Sélys, 1862) s'échappent des anisoptères prédateurs libellulidés qui sont en train de dévorer leurs hôtes. Nous émettons l'hypothèse selon laquelle ces acariens aux couleurs vives sont évités par les libellules qui s'alimentent. Cependant, tous les acariens A. pollictus partiellement engorgés ont été mangés pendant que leur hôte était consommé lors d'essais planifiés de prédation. En revanche, la moitié des acariens complètement engorgés se sont détachés et ont ainsi évité d'être mangés. Les essais avec les acariens A. planus montrent qu'ils se détachent plus volontiers que leurs congénères, ce qui peut s'expliquer par une sélection exercée sur ces acariens d'étangs temporaires pour survivre au stress de dessiccation consécutif au détachement. L'effet de la prédation par les libellules sur la transition des acariens, de leurs larves parasites à leurs stades aquatiques de vie libre, dépend donc du degré d'engorgement et de l'espèce d'acarien.


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