Parasites are known to directly affect their hosts at both the individual and population level. However, little is known about their more subtle, indirect effects and how these may affect population and community dynamics. In particular, trophically transmitted parasites may manipulate the behavior of intermediate hosts, fundamentally altering the pattern of contact between these individuals and their predators. Here, we develop a suite of population dynamic models to explore the impact of such behavioral modifications on the dynamics and structure of the predator-prey community. We show that, although such manipulations do not directly affect the persistence of the predator and prey populations, they can greatly alter the quantitative dynamics of the community, potentially resulting in high amplitude oscillations in abundance. We show that the precise impact of host manipulation depends greatly on the predator's functional response, which describes the predator's foraging efficiency under changing prey availabilities. Even if the parasite is rarely observed within the prey population, such manipulations extend beyond the direct impact on the intermediate host to affect the foraging success of the predator, with profound implications for the structure and stability of the predator-prey community.
|Translated title of the contribution||The impact of parasite manipulation and predator foraging behavior on the structure of predator-prey communities|
|Pages (from-to)||2832 - 2841|
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|