Condition and fecundity of the damselfly, Enallagma ebrium (Hagen): the importance of ectoparasites
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The extent, magnitude, and cause of natural covariation between degree of parasitism and other variables known or suspected of influencing host fitness (such as host age or body size) has been understudied. We demonstrate that degree of parasitism by larval water mites (Arrenurus spp.) was associated with reduced condition of males and with lowered fecundity of young females of the damselfly, Enallagma ebrium (Hagen) (Odonata: Coenagrionidae). We also demonstrate that degree of parasitism can covary with both age and size of host damselflies. We explain the putative causes of such natural covariation, and we suggest that degree of parasitism, host age, and host size can all interact to determine damselfly fitness. We expect that natural covariation between the host's phenotype and degree of parasitism will be frequently observed. Studies of such natural covariation will help researchers to assess better the importance of several variables on host reproductive success and to understand better the dynamics of host-parasite interactions.
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