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PloS one

Prevalence and Molecular Identification of Nematode and Dipteran Parasites in an Australian Alpine Grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis).


PMID 25919745

Abstract

In alpine Australia, Orthoptera are abundant, dominant herbivores, important prey species, and hosts for parasites and parasitoids. Despite the central role of orthopterans in alpine ecosystems, the impact of parasites on orthopteran populations is under-explored. In this study we describe the relationship between parasite prevalence and host sex, body size and year of collection. We accessed an existing, preserved collection of 640 Kosciuscola tristis collected from across its range between 2007 and 2011. Upon dissection we collected juvenile parasites and used molecular tools to identify them to three families (Nematoda; Mermithidae, and Arthropoda: Diptera: Tachinidae and Sarcophagidae). The prevalence of nematodes ranged from 3.5% to 25.0% and dipterans from 2.4% to 20.0%. Contrary to predictions, we found no associations between parasite prevalence and grasshopper sex or size. Although there was an association between prevalence of both nematodes and dipterans with year of collection, this is likely driven by a small sample size in the first year. Our results provide a foundation for future studies into parasite prevalence within the alpine environment and the abiotic factors that might influence these associations.

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