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Climate influences parasite-mediated competitive release

Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Wadden Sea North Sea
  • North East Atlantic
  • North Atlantic Atlantic Ocean
  • Climate Forcing
  • Competitive Release
  • Intertidal Habitat
  • North Atlantic Climate Oscillation
  • Sea Temperature
  • Species Abundance
  • Species Coexistence
  • Crustacea Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals
  • Arthropods
  • Crustaceans
  • Invertebrates) - Malacostraca [75112] Amphipod Common Host Corophium Volutator Species Host Corophiu
  • Mollusca Invertebrata Animalia (Animals
  • Invertebrates
  • Mollusks) - Gastropoda [61200] Hydrobia Ulvae Species Host
  • Platyhelminthes Helminthes Invertebrata Animalia (Animals
  • Helminths
  • Invertebrates
  • Platyhelminths) - Trematoda [45200] Cercariae Common Larva Parasite
  • 07504
  • Ecology: Environmental Biology - Bioclimatology And Biometeorology
  • 07508
  • Ecology: Environmental Biology - Animal
  • 07512
  • Ecology: Environmental Biology - Oceanography
  • 25502
  • Development And Embryology - General And Descriptive
  • 64010
  • Invertebrata: Comparative
  • Experimental Morphology
  • Physiology And Pathology - Platyhelminthes
  • 64026
  • Invertebrata: Comparative
  • Experimental Morphology
  • Physiology And Pathology - Mollusca
  • 64054
  • Invertebrata:Comparative
  • Experimental Morphology
  • Physiology And Pathology - Arthropoda: Crustacea
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Climatology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Parasitism is believed to play an important role in maintaining species diversity, for instance by facilitating coexistence between competing host species. However, the possibility that environmental factors may govern the outcome of parasite-mediated competition has rarely been considered. The closely related amphipods Corophium volutator and Corophium arenarium both serve as second intermediate host for detrimental trematodes. Corophium volutator is the superior competitor of the two, but also suffers from higher mortality when exposed to infective trematode stages. Here, we report parasite-mediated competitive release of C. arenarium in an intertidal habitat, in part triggered by unusually high temperatures linked to the North Atlantic climate oscillation (NAO). The elevated temperatures accelerated the transmission of cercariae from sympatric first intermediate hosts (mud snails) to amphipods, causing a local collapse of the parasite-sensitive C. volutator population and concordant increase in the abundance of the competitively inferior C. arenarium.

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