Parasitism and survival in a damselfly: does host sex matter?

Pia Braune , Jens Rolff

Abstract

We present experimental data on the survivorship of damselflies infested by parasitic water mites from a population in field cages. In addition, we show correlative laboratory data under simulated severe weather conditions. In the manipulative experiment, parasitized females' individual condition, which was measured as weight at emergence, was an important determinant of survival under field conditions. In contrast, such a relationship did not occur in males and unparasitized females. It was found in the laboratory experiment that water mites as well as weight at emergence both contributed significantly to the reduced survivorship of male and female damselflies. It was concluded that the impact of parasitism depends on environmental conditions and that host sexes differ in their responses to parasitism. This is discussed in the light of immunocompetence in invertebrates.