Term of Award
Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)
Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Biology
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The results of urbanization, where human populations are concentrated in cities, include land use change and habitat fragmentation. These processes likely alter parasite communities and the population dynamics of the hosts in which they reside. The purpose of this thesis was to determine how parasite communities and their intermediate host species respond to stressors associated with urbanization. To determine the relative importance of local and regional abiotic factors on the establishment and diversity of parasites, I quantified the parasite community in the salt marsh fish, Fundulus heteroclitus, from 6 sites selected to reflect a gradient of urbanization (determined by variation in impervious surface). 630 fish were studied, with 105 collected per site in 4 collection periods from 2015-16: concurrently, the local abiotic environment and regional landscape predictors were quantified. Parasite component communities were different between sites, with the pattern primarily driven by the complex life-cycle digenean, Lasiotocus minutus. The most consistent predictors of parasite infracommunity richness within F. heteroclitus were host size, % regional salt marsh, and regional patch density. This suggests that the parasite community is determined by the interaction between landscape level change and the local environment. I followed this study with static acute bioassays on parasitized and unparasitized salt marsh snails (Spurwinkia salsa) using copper sulfate, a contaminant associated with urbanization. Parasitized individuals had a greater risk of mortality than unparasitized individuals. These results suggest that minor anthropogenic disturbance may have unforeseen affects on fitness as a result of the interactive effects of stressors.
Alfieri, J.M. (2016). The effects of urbanization on host populations and parasite communities in coastal Georgia salt marshes. Master's Thesis.
Research Data and Supplementary Material