Gregarines are single-celled parasites in the phylum Apicomplexa that infect invertebrates. They are highly abundant on three levels: among a large diversity of invertebrates, in the proportion of population of organisms they infect, and within individually infected organisms. Because of their remarkable prevalence, we hypothesize that they play an important role in support of their hosts. However, studies done to date on the impact of gregarines on their host are conflicting. Therefore, we studied the impact of gregarines on their host using a model Gregarina niphandrodes infection in Tenebrio molitor. The impact of infection was measured by comparing beetles with no or low infection to those with artificially induced high infection. The numbers of individuals in each of the three easily visible developmental stages of the T. molitor (larva, pupa, and adult) were censused weekly. From these observations, fertilities and probabilities of survival with transition between stages were estimated. These estimated vital rates were used to construct a stage-classified projection matrix model. We also measured the longevity of individual beetles with low and high infection that were grown in isolation. The results indicate that there is no significant difference in the population dynamics of beetles with low and high infection. However, the longevity was significantly different between beetles with low infection than the deliberately highly infected group.
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