How do manipulative parasites influence sexual selection?
Sexual selection involves the exhibition of conspicuous ornaments and the performance of risky behaviors. Trophically transmitted parasites often increase risky behaviors in intermediate hosts to facilitate their transmission and reproduction. However, the relationship between these parasites and sexual signaling of their intermediate hosts has received little investigation. Through behavioral studies of naturally and experimentally infected fiddler crabs, I am examining how trophically transmitted parasites influence their sexual signals and mating success.
Sex differences in parasite risk and avoidance
Sex differences in host disease patterns have been documented in a wide range of taxa. These patterns have been attributed to differences in behavior (sex-specific behavior may increase/decrease encounter rates with pathogens) and physiology (vertebrate males experience immunosuppressive effects of testosterone). I am examining how sex differences in morphology and behavior influence trematode infection patterns in fiddler crab hosts.