Nematodes Infect, But Do Not Manipulate Digging By, Sand Crabs, Lepidopa benedicti
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We examined sand crabs (Lepidopa benedicti) for endoparasites, and found the only parasite consistently infecting the studied population were small nematodes. Because many nematodes have complex life cycles involving multiple hosts, often strongly manipulating their hosts, we hypothesized that nematodes alter the behavior of their sand crab hosts. We predicted that more heavily infected crabs would spend more time above sand than less heavily infected crabs. Our data indicate infection by nematodes was not correlated with duration of time crabs spent above sand. We also suggest that organisms living in sandy beaches may benefit from relatively low parasite loads due to the low diversity of species in the habitat.
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