Vertical distribution of an estuarine snail altered by a parasite

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Science  20 Mar 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4795, pp. 1509-1511
DOI: 10.1126/science.3823901


Estuarine snails Ilyanassa obsoleta bearing larvae of the trematode Gynaecotyla adunca behave singularly in comparison with conspecifics lacking this parasite. Following high tides, and especially at night, infected snails were found stranded high on beaches and sandbars. Semiterrestrial crustaceans living well up on the shore serve as the next host, and the modified (induced) snail behavior is apparently a parasite adaptation facilitating cercarial transmission to these crustaceans. The altered behavior is unusual because of its apparent enhancement of host-to-host transmission by cercariae rather than predation, the process commonly recognized as being enhanced by parasitic modification of host behavior.