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  1. R. Causse (Ed.)
    Here we present length-weight relationships (LWR) for 11 reef fish species from eight islands in French Polynesia. A total of 1,930 fish were collected from five islands in the Society Archipelago (Moorea, Tahiti, Raiatea, Huahine, Tetiaroa) and in three atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago (Takapoto, Tikehau, and Rangiroa). These fishes span trophic levels, including planktivores, herbivores, and carnivores, and are among the most abundant species for the region. Estimates include LWRs for species never previously published or available in the literature or accessible databases. Measurements of total length (TL: 0.1 cm precision) and total weight (W: 0.01 g precision) were taken. These estimates increase the number of available and robust LWRs for coral reef fishes, providing a better understanding of patterns of growth for these species. With a particular focus on small-bodied species, among the most abundant observed in underwater visual censuses, these estimates will allow marine resource managers and local scientists to characterize fish biomass in French Polynesia with greater precision. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 11, 2024
  2. Thuesen, Erik V. (Ed.)
    Long-term datasets can reveal otherwise undetectable ecological trends, illuminating the historical context of contemporary ecosystem states. We used two decades (1997–2019) of scientific trawling data from a subtidal, benthic site in Puget Sound, Washington, USA to test for gradual trends and sudden shifts in total sea star abundance across 11 species. We specifically assessed whether this community responded to the sea star wasting disease (SSWD) epizootic, which began in 2013. We sampled at depths of 10, 25, 50 and 70 m near Port Madison, WA, and obtained long-term water temperature data. To account for species-level differences in SSWD susceptibility, we divided our sea star abundance data into two categories, depending on the extent to which the species is susceptible to SSWD, then conducted parallel analyses for high-susceptibility and moderate-susceptibility species. The abundance of high-susceptibility sea stars declined in 2014 across depths. In contrast, the abundance of moderate-susceptibility species trended downward throughout the years at the deepest depths– 50 and 70 m–and suddenly declined in 2006 across depths. Water temperature was positively correlated with the abundance of moderate-susceptibility species, and uncorrelated with high-susceptibility sea star abundance. The reported emergence of SSWD in Washington State in the summer of 2014 provides a plausible explanation for the subsequent decline in abundance of high-susceptibility species. However, no long-term stressors or mortality events affecting sea stars were reported in Washington State prior to these years, leaving the declines we observed in moderate-susceptibility species preceding the 2013–2015 SSWD epizootic unexplained. These results suggest that the subtidal sea star community in Port Madison is dynamic, and emphasizes the value of long-term datasets for evaluating patterns of change. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024
  3. Mancinelli, Giorgio (Ed.)

    The human burden of environmentally transmitted infectious diseases can depend strongly on ecological factors, including the presence or absence of natural enemies. The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a novel invasive species that can tolerate a wide range of ecological conditions and colonize diverse habitats. Marbled crayfish first appeared in Madagascar in 2005 and quickly spread across the country, overlapping with the distribution of freshwater snails that serve as the intermediate host of schistosomiasis–a parasitic disease of poverty with human prevalence ranging up to 94% in Madagascar. It has been hypothesized that the marbled crayfish may serve as a predator of schistosome-competent snails in areas where native predators cannot and yet no systematic study to date has been conducted to estimate its predation rate on snails. Here, we experimentally assessed marbled crayfish consumption of uninfected and infected schistosome-competent snails (Biomphalaria glabrataandBulinus truncatus) across a range of temperatures, reflective of the habitat range of the marbled crayfish in Madagascar. We found that the relationship between crayfish consumption and temperature is unimodal with a peak at ~27.5°C. Per-capita consumption increased with body size and was not affected either by snail species or their infectious status. We detected a possible satiation effect, i.e., a small but significant reduction in per-capita consumption rate over the 72-hour duration of the predation experiment. Our results suggest that ecological parameters, such as temperature and crayfish weight, influence rates of consumption and, in turn, the potential impact of the marbled crayfish invasion on snail host populations.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 13, 2024
  4. Long-term data allow ecologists to assess trajectories of population abundance. Without this context, it is impossible to know whether a taxon is thriving or declining to extinction. For parasites of wildlife, there are few long-term data—a gap that creates an impediment to managing parasite biodiversity and infectious threats in a changing world. We produced a century-scale time series of metazoan parasite abundance and used it to test whether parasitism is changing in Puget Sound, United States, and, if so, why. We performed parasitological dissection of fluid-preserved specimens held in natural history collections for eight fish species collected between 1880 and 2019. We found that parasite taxa using three or more obligately required host species—a group that comprised 52% of the parasite taxa we detected—declined in abundance at a rate of 10.9% per decade, whereas no change in abundance was detected for parasites using one or two obligately required host species. We tested several potential mechanisms for the decline in 3+-host parasites and found that parasite abundance was negatively correlated with sea surface temperature, diminishing at a rate of 38% for every 1 °C increase. Although the temperature effect was strong, it did not explain all variability in parasite burden, suggesting that other factors may also have contributed to the long-term declines we observed. These data document one century of climate-associated parasite decline in Puget Sound—a massive loss of biodiversity, undetected until now. 
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  5. Abstract

    The dilution effect hypothesis posits that increasing biodiversity reduces infectious disease transmission. Here, we propose that habitat quality might modulate this negative biodiversity–disease relationship. Habitat may influence pathogen prevalence directly by affecting host traits like nutrition and immune response (we coined the term “habitat–disease relationship” to describe this phenomenon) or indirectly by changing host biodiversity (biodiversity–disease relationship). We used a path model to test the relative strength of links between habitat, biodiversity, and pathogen prevalence in a pollinator–virus system. High‐quality habitat metrics were directly associated with viral prevalence, providing evidence for a habitat–disease relationship. However, the strength and direction of specific habitat effects on viral prevalence varied based on the characteristics of the habitat, host, and pathogen. In general, more natural area and richness of land‐cover types were directly associated with increased viral prevalence, whereas greater floral density was associated with reduced viral prevalence. More natural habitat was also indirectly associated with reduced prevalence of two key viruses (black queen cell virus and deformed wing virus) via increased pollinator species richness, providing evidence for a habitat‐mediated dilution effect on viral prevalence. Biodiversity–disease relationships varied across viruses, with the prevalence of sacbrood virus not being associated with any habitat quality or pollinator community metrics. Across all viruses and hosts, habitat–disease and biodiversity–disease paths had effects of similar magnitude on viral prevalence. Therefore, habitat quality is a key driver of variation in pathogen prevalence among communities via both direct habitat–disease and indirect biodiversity–disease pathways, though the specific patterns varied among different viruses and host species. Critically, habitat–disease relationships could either contribute to or obscure dilution effects in natural systems depending on the relative strength and direction of the habitat–disease and biodiversity–disease pathways in that host–pathogen system. Therefore, habitat may be an important driver in the complex interactions between hosts and pathogens.

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  6. Abstract Earth is rapidly losing free-living species. Is the same true for parasitic species? To reveal temporal trends in biodiversity, historical data are needed, but often such data do not exist for parasites. Here, parasite communities of the past were reconstructed by identifying parasites in fluid-preserved specimens held in natural history collections. Approximately 2500 macroparasites were counted from 109 English Sole ( Parophrys vetulus ) collected between 1930 and 2019 in the Salish Sea, Washington, USA. Alpha and beta diversity were measured to determine if and how diversity changed over time. Species richness of parasite infracommunities and community dispersion did not vary over time, but community composition of decadal component communities varied significantly over the study period. Community dissimilarity also varied: prior to the mid-20th century, parasites shifted in abundance in a seemingly stochastic manner and, after this time period, a canalization of community change was observed, where species' abundances began to shift in consistent directions. Further work is needed to elucidate potential drivers of these changes and to determine if these patterns are present in the parasite communities of other fishes of the Salish Sea. 
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  7. The development of water management infrastructures, such as dams and canals, are important components of society’s response to feed a growing human population and to fight climate change. Yet, these changes in land use can also increase the transmission risk for waterborne diseases. Transmission risk associated with artificial reservoirs has been extensively documented for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease of poverty that infects more than 240 million people worldwide. Over 90% of these cases are in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is being steadily reshaped by climate change. Controlling the parasite’s obligate intermediate host snail is key to reducing transmission of this disease. Using commercial aquaculture to farm marketable species which predate upon these snails in vulnerable regions can have multiple positive effects, including the improved socioeconomic and nutritional health of surrounding communities. Here the authors assessed the viability of using the aquaculture of snail predators to simultaneously control schistosomiasis infection rates while alleviating economic and/or nutritional poverty in endemic regions of sub-Saharan Africa. A PRISMA-based 6-step systematic methodology was used to explore the primary literature using the case study of Côte d’Ivoire and two native species of snail predator to make evidence-based conclusions on the viability of this method for controlling schistosomiasis. This detailed thematic examination of the literature concluded that using specific approaches and species, aquaculture could be effective in reducing economic poverty and chronic malnourishment along with high levels of schistosomiasis infection. More current species-specific aquaculture data and consumer survey data are, however, needed to determine the economic and logistical effectiveness of farming native snail predators in-country. These and other opportunities for future research are highlighted. 
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  8. Lutermann, Heike (Ed.)
    The unusual blue color polymorphism of lingcod ( Ophiodon elongatus ) is the subject of much speculation but little empirical research; ~20% of lingcod individuals exhibit this striking blue color morph, which is discrete from and found within the same populations as the more common brown morph. In other species, color polymorphisms are intimately linked with host–parasite interactions, which led us to ask whether blue coloration in lingcod might be associated with parasitism, either as cause or effect. To test how color and parasitism are related in this host species, we performed parasitological dissection of 89 lingcod individuals collected across more than 26 degrees of latitude from Alaska, Washington, and California, USA. We found that male lingcod carried 1.89 times more parasites if they were blue than if they were brown, whereas there was no difference in parasite burden between blue and brown female lingcod. Blue individuals of both sexes had lower hepatosomatic index (i.e., relative liver weight) values than did brown individuals, indicating that blueness is associated with poor body condition. The immune systems of male vertebrates are typically less effective than those of females, due to the immunocompromising properties of male sex hormones; this might explain why blueness is associated with elevated parasite burdens in males but not in females. What remains to be determined is whether parasites induce physiological damage that produces blueness or if both blue coloration and parasite burden are driven by some unmeasured variable, such as starvation. Although our study cannot discriminate between these possibilities, our data suggest that the immune system could be involved in the blue color polymorphism–an exciting jumping-off point for future research to definitively identify the cause of lingcod blueness and a hint that immunocompetence and parasitism may play a role in lingcod population dynamics. 
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