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Oecologia. 2004 Aug;140(4):586-90. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

The distribution of Echinococcus granulosus in moose: evidence for parasite-induced vulnerability to predation by wolves?

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Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5E2.

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  • Oecologia. 2005 Jan;142(3):500.


The role of parasites in influencing the trophic dynamics of hosts is becoming increasingly recognized in the ecological literature. Echinococcus granulosus is a tapeworm that relies on the predator-prey relationship between the definitive host (wolf, Canis lupus) and the intermediate host, (moose, Alces alces) to complete its life cycle. Heavy infection by E. granulosus may predispose moose to increased risk of predation by wolves. Theory predicts that parasite-induced vulnerability to predation will reduce the degree of aggregation of parasites in a host population. We tested for different levels of aggregation of E. granulosus in moose in areas of low, moderate, and high levels of wolf predation using Green's coefficient of dispersion. Parasite aggregation was lower in an area with high predation rate, thus we hypothesize that heavy infection by E. granulosus predisposes moose to predation by wolves. This increase in predation rate due to parasite infection may influence the role of wolves in regulating moose populations. We discuss alternative explanations for the negative correlation between predation rate and parasite aggregation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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