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© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Environmental conditions are rarely constant, but instead vary spatially and temporally. This variation influences ecological interactions and epidemiological dynamics, yet most experimental studies examine interactions under constant conditions. We examined the effects of variability in temperature on the host–pathogen relationship between an aquatic zooplankton host (Daphnia laevis) and an environmentally transmitted fungal pathogen (Metschnikowia bicuspidata). We manipulated temperature variability by exposing all populations to mean temperatures of 20°C for the length of the experiments, but introducing periods of 1, 2, and 4 hr each day where the populations were exposed to 28°C followed by periods of the same length (1, 2, and 4 hr, respectively) where the populations were exposed to 12°C. Three experiments were performed to assess the role of thermal variability on Daphnia–pathogen interactions, specifically with respect to: (1) host infection prevalence and intensity; (2) free-living pathogen survival; and (3) host foraging ecology. We found that temperature variability affected host filtering rate, which is closely related to pathogen transmission in this system. Further, infection prevalence was reduced as a function of temperature variability, while infection intensity was not influenced, suggesting that pathogen transmission was influenced by temperature variability, but the growth of pathogen within infected hosts was not. Host survival was reduced by temperature variability, but environmental pathogen survival was unaffected, suggesting that zooplankton hosts were more sensitive than the fungal pathogen to variable temperatures. Together, these experiments suggest that temperature variability may influence host demography and host–pathogen interactions, providing a link between host foraging ecology and pathogen transmission.

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Ecology and Evolution

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