The association of feeding behaviour with the resistance and tolerance to parasites in recently diverged sticklebacks.
2157 - 2167
J Evol Biol
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Divergent natural selection regimes can contribute to adaptive population divergence, but can be sensitive to human-mediated environmental change. Nutrient loading of aquatic ecosystems, for example, might modify selection pressures by altering the abundance and distribution of resources and the prevalence and infectivity of parasites. Here, we used a mesocosm experiment to test for interactive effects of nutrient loading and parasitism on host condition and feeding ecology. Specifically, we investigated whether the common fish parasite Gyrodactylus sp. differentially affected recently diverged lake and stream ecotypes of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We found that the stream ecotype had a higher resistance to Gyrodactylus sp. infections than the lake ecotype, and that both ecotypes experienced a cost of parasitism, indicated by negative relationships between parasite load and both stomach fullness and body condition. Overall, our results suggest that in the early stages of adaptive population divergence of hosts, parasites can affect host resistance, body condition and diet.