Spatial heterogeneity of daphniid parasitism within lakes

Spencer R. Hall, Meghan A. Duffy, Alan J. Tessier, Carla E. Cáceres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatially explicit models show that local interactions of hosts and parasites can strongly influence invasion and persistence of parasites and can create lasting spatial patchiness of parasite distributions. These predictions have been supported by experiments conducted in two-dimensional landscapes. Yet, three-dimensional systems, such as lakes, ponds, and oceans, have received comparatively little attention from epidemiologists. Freshwater zooplankton hosts often aggregate horizontally and vertically in lakes, potentially leading to local host-parasite interactions in one-, two-, or three-dimensions. To evaluate the potential spatial component of daphniid parasitism driven by these local interactions (patchiness), we surveyed vertical and horizontal heterogeneity of pelagic Daphnia infected with multiple microparasites in several north temperate lakes. These surveys uncovered little evidence for persistent vertical patchiness of parasitism, since the prevalence of two parasites showed little consistent trend with depth in four lakes (but more heterogeneity during day than at night). On a horizontal scale of tens of meters, we found little systematic evidence of strong aggregation and spatial patterning of daphniid hosts and parasites. Yet, we observed broad-scale, basin-wide patterns of parasite prevalence. These patterns suggest that nearshore offshore gradients, rather than local-scale interactions, could play a role in governing epidemiology of this open water host-parasite system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-644
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Aquatic
  • Autocorrelation
  • Daphnia
  • Deep trouble hypothesis
  • Parasites
  • Patchiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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