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Data from: Spatial and temporal escape from fungal parasitism in natural communities of anciently asexual bdelloid rotifers

Citation

Wilson, Christopher G.; Sherman, Paul W. (2014), Data from: Spatial and temporal escape from fungal parasitism in natural communities of anciently asexual bdelloid rotifers, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.101n0

Abstract

Sexual reproduction is costly, but it is nearly ubiquitous among plants and animals, whereas obligately asexual taxa are rare and almost always short-lived. The Red Queen hypothesis proposes that sex overcomes its costs by enabling organisms to keep pace with coevolving parasites and pathogens. If so, the few cases of stable long-term asexuality ought to be found in groups whose coevolutionary interactions with parasites are unusually weak. In theory, antagonistic coevolution will be attenuated if hosts disperse among patches within a metapopulation separately from parasites and more rapidly. We examined whether these conditions are met in natural communities of bdelloid rotifers, one of the longest-lived asexual lineages. At any life stage, these microscopic invertebrates can tolerate the complete desiccation of their ephemeral freshwater habitats, surviving as dormant propagules that are readily carried by the wind. In our field experiments, desiccation and wind transport enabled bdelloids to disperse independently of multiple fungal parasites, in both time and space. Surveys of bdelloid communities in unmanipulated moss patches confirmed that fungal parasitism was negatively correlated with extended drought and increasing height (exposure to wind). Bdelloid ecology therefore matches a key condition of models in which asexuals persist through spatio-temporal decoupling from coevolving enemies.

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Location

51° 24' 34"N 0° 38' 41"W
42º 30’09”N 76º26’14”W