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Roper et al data on mite transmission between slugs

Citation

Roper, Mark; Arnold, Ruth; Storer, Kieran; Green, Jonathan (2022), Roper et al data on mite transmission between slugs, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wwpzgmsnr

Abstract

Transmission between hosts is crucial to the growth, development and reproduction of many parasites. As a consequence, parasites are under selection to maximise transmission success and exhibit many behavioural and morphological adaptations that allow detection of, and movement between, hosts. However, transmission success is not determined by parasites alone, but is also shaped by host behaviours. Often, host behaviours function to minimise the risk of exposure to parasites; in some cases, however, host behaviours may be manipulated by parasites to increase transmission success. In this study, we investigated transmission of the ectoparasitic mite Riccardoella oudemansi between slug (Limacus maculatus) hosts, considering the role of both host and parasite behaviour in determining transmission success. Host-host transmission occurred when slugs were in physical contact, but that mites were also capable of moving across the substrate to locate new hosts, a process facilitated by mucus trails. We found no strong evidence that slugs avoid parasitised conspecifics, or that mites manipulate slug behaviour to increase transmission. Finally, mites showed a preference for the mucus of parasitised slugs, but did not discriminate between mucus from their own host versus another parasitised slug. A general preference for mucus from parasitised slugs is likely to be important in encouraging mites to remain in close contact with their host and may also facilitate host-switching and outbreeding. We encourage further study of parasitism by Riccardoella in limacid slugs, where cross-species variation in host social behaviour may drive differences in the rate and success of parasite transmission across slug species.

Methods

The data are from a series of behavioural experiments investigating transmission of the ectoparasitic mite Riccardoella oudemansi between slug (Limacus maculatus) hosts.

Funding

New College, University of Oxford