We studied experimental double infections of the cestode Schistocephalus solidus in its stickleback host. In particular, we were interested in how two important components of the cestode's transmission success—establishment and growth within the fish host—were affected by the relatedness of the two parasites in a double exposure and by the timing of the two exposures, that is, whether they occurred simultaneously or sequentially. We found that male sticklebacks more often became infected (singly or doubly) if the two cestodes in the exposures were related, whereas female sticklebacks were more easily infected (singly or doubly) when exposed to two unrelated cestodes. Irrespective of the fish's gender, successful infections more often contained both cestodes when they were related. In sequential exposures with related as well as unrelated cestodes, the cestode in the later exposure survived better and also grew larger than the cestode from the first exposure, despite being one week younger. Our results emphasize that within-host dynamics and factors acting at this level can play an important role in determining a parasite's transmission success.
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Vol. 60 • No. 3