Caution on the assessment of intestinal parasitic load in studying parasite-mediated sexual selection: the case of Blackbirds coccidiosis. - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles International Journal for Parasitology Year : 2009

Caution on the assessment of intestinal parasitic load in studying parasite-mediated sexual selection: the case of Blackbirds coccidiosis.

L. Filipiak
  • Function : Author
Fabrice Mathieu
Jérôme Moreau

Abstract

The parasite-mediated sexual selection (PMSS) theory has led to an increasing number of experimental studies essentially focussed on blood parasites. Currently, more research is being carried out on intestinal parasites in relationship to this theory. Before testing the theory with gastrointestinal parasites, it is important: (i) to determine an optimal research methodology to obtain an accurate assessment of parasite burden and (ii) to have information about life-history traits of the parasite to interpret data appropriately. In this study, we present data on oocyst output of Isosporaturdi in the faeces of blackbirds (Turdus merula) that illustrate the importance of developing methods that are relevant for a particular model system, instead of relying on existing methods that may work in other systems. Our results show that: (i) a single droplet of faeces will accurately indicate the parasitic load in blackbirds, (ii) oocyst shedding varies greatly within and between days, (iii) the course of infection is characterised with two successive peaks of oocyst shedding, (iv) infection lasts approximately 1 month and (iv) there is no effect of sex, size of infective dose or re-infection on the course of infection. We discuss the practical implications of these results in determining the reliability of, and in avoiding erroneous conclusions about, PMSS when using intestinal parasites as models. In particular, we emphasise that numerous measurements must be performed on different days. In addition, faeces must be collected at a particular time of day because there is a strong temporal variation in oocyst shedding. Finally, a standardised methodology that has been developed for a particular host-parasite assemblage does not necessarily work with other biological models. Together, our results should encourage future investigators to identify an accurate methodology for assessing parasitic load as a first step before testing hypotheses associated with the PMSS theory.

Dates and versions

hal-00366592 , version 1 (09-03-2009)

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L. Filipiak, Fabrice Mathieu, Jérôme Moreau. Caution on the assessment of intestinal parasitic load in studying parasite-mediated sexual selection: the case of Blackbirds coccidiosis.. International Journal for Parasitology, 2009, 39 (6), pp.741-746. ⟨10.1016/j.ijpara.2008.11.005⟩. ⟨hal-00366592⟩
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