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Data from: Parasitized mates increase infection risk for partners

Cite this dataset

Martinez-Padilla, Jesus; Vergara, Pablo; Mougeot, François; Redpath, Stephen M. (2012). Data from: Parasitized mates increase infection risk for partners [Dataset]. Dryad.


Individuals can gain fitness benefits and costs through their mates. However, studies on sexual selection have tended to focus on genetic benefits. A potentially widespread cost of pairing with a parasitized mate is that it will increase an individual's parasite abundance. Such a cost has been overlooked in systems where parasites are indirectly transmitted. We manipulated the abundance of the nematode parasite Trichostrongylus tenuis, an indirectly transmitted parasite, within pairs of wild red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus in spring. Parasite levels were correlated within pairs before the experiment. We removed parasites from either males, females, or both members of the pair, and evaluated individual parasite uptake over the subsequent breeding period. At the end of the breeding season, an individual's parasite abundance was greater when its mate had not been initially purged of parasites. This cost appeared greater for males. We discuss the implications of our results in relation to the costs that parasites may have on sexual selection processes.

Usage notes


Scotland and northern England