Environmental temperature variation influences fitness trade-offs and tolerance in a fish-tapeworm association
Franke F, Armitage SAO, Kutzer MAM, Kurtz J, Scharsack JP – 2017
Increasing temperatures are predicted to strongly impact host-parasite interactions, but empirical tests are rare. Host species that are naturally exposed to a broad temperature spectrum offer the possibility to investigate the effects of elevated temperatures on hosts and parasites. Using three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus L., and tapeworms, Schistocephalus solidus (Müller, 1776), originating from a cold and a warm water site of a volcanic lake, we subjected sympatric and allopatric host-parasite combinations to cold and warm conditions in a fully crossed design. We predicted that warm temperatures would promote the development of the parasites, while the hosts might benefit from cooler temperatures. We further expected adaptations to the local temperature and mutual adaptations of local host-parasite pairs.Overall, S. solidus parasites grew faster at warm temperatures and stickleback hosts at cold temperatures. On a finer scale, we observed that parasites were able to exploit their hosts more efficiently at the parasite's temperature of origin. In contrast, host tolerance towards parasite infection was higher when sticklebacks were infected with parasites at the parasite's 'foreign' temperature. Cold-origin sticklebacks tended to grow faster and parasite infection induced a stronger immune response.Our results suggest that increasing environmental temperatures promote the parasite rather than the host and that host tolerance is dependent on the interaction between parasite infection and temperature. Sticklebacks might use tolerance mechanisms towards parasite infection in combination with their high plasticity towards temperature changes to cope with increasing parasite infection pressures and rising temperatures.