Sexual and developmental variations of ectoparasitism in damselflies

Shatabdi Paul*, Md Kawsar Khan, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    12 Downloads (Pure)


    The prevalence and intensity of parasitism can have different fitness costs between sexes, and across species and developmental stages. This variation could arise because of species specific sexual and developmental differences in body condition, immunity, and resistance. Theory predicts that the prevalence of parasitism will be greater in individuals with poor body condition and the intensity of parasitism will be greater in individuals with larger body size. These predictions have been tested and verified in vertebrates. In insects, however, contradictory evidence has been found in different taxa. Here, we tested these predictions on two species of Agriocnemis (Agriocnemis femina and Agriocnemis pygmaea) damselflies, which are parasitized by Arrenurus water mite ectoparasites. We measured body weight, total body length, abdomen area and thorax area of non-parasitized damselflies and found body condition varied between males and females, between immature females and mature females and between A. femina and A. pygmaea. Then, we calculated the parasite prevalence, i.e., the absence or presence of parasites and intensity, i.e., the number of parasites per infected damselfly in eleven natural populations of both species. In line to our predictions, we observed greater prevalence in immature females than mature females but found no difference in parasite prevalence between males and females. Furthermore, we found that parasite intensity was higher in females than males and in immature females than mature females. Our result also showed that the frequency and intensity of parasitism varied between the two studied species, being higher in A. pygmaea than A. femina. Our study provides evidence that parasitism impacts sexes, developmental stages and species differentially and suggests that variation may occur due to sex, developmental stage, and species-specific resistance and tolerance mechanism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0261540
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Sexual and developmental variations of ectoparasitism in damselflies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this