Two digging decapod crustaceans, the sand crab species Lepidopa benedicti and the mole crab species Emerita benedicti, both live in the swash zone of fine sand beaches. They were examined for two parasites that infect decapod crustaceans in the region, an unidentified nematode previously shown to infect L. benedicti, and cestode tapeworm larvae, Polypocephalus sp., previously shown to infect shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus). Lepidopa benedicti were almost always infected with both parasite species, while E. benedicti were rarely infected with either parasite species. This difference in infection pattern suggests that tapeworms are ingested during sediment feeding in L. benedicti, which E. benedicti avoid by filter feeding. Larger L. benedicti had more Polypocephalus sp. larvae. The thoracic ganglia, which make up the largest proportion of neural tissue, contained the largest numbers of Polypocephalus sp. larvae. Intensity of Polypocephalus sp. infection was not correlated with how long L. benedicti remained above sand in behavioural tests, suggesting that Polypocephalus sp. do not manipulate the sand crabs in a way that facilitates trophic transmission of the parasite. Litopenaeus setiferus may be a primary host for Polypocephalus sp., and L. benedict may be a secondary, auxiliary host.
Faulkes Z. 2017. Filtering out parasites: sand crabs (Lepidopa benedicti) are infected by more parasites than sympatric mole crabs (Emerita benedicti) PeerJ 5:e3852 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3852