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    Methods matter: the influence of method on infection estimates of the bumblebee parasite Crithidia bombi

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    The bumblebee gut parasite, Crithidia bombi, is widespread and prevalent in the field. Its interaction with Bombus spp. is a well-established epidemiological model. It is spread faecal-orally between colonies via the shared use of flowers when foraging. Accurately measuring the level of infection in bumblebees is important for assessing its distribution in the field, and also when conducting epidemiological experiments. Studies generally use 1 of 2 methods for measuring infection. One approach measures infection in faeces whereas the other method measures infection in guts. We tested whether the method of measuring infection affected the estimation of infection. Bumblebees were inoculated with a standardized inoculum and infection was measured 1 week later using either the faecal or gut method. We found that when the gut method was used to measure infection intensity estimates were significantly different to and approximately double those from the faecal method. These results have implications for the interpretation of previous study results and for the planning of future studies. Given the importance of bumblebees as pollinators, the impact of C. bombi on bumblebee health, and its use as an epidemiological model, we call on researchers to move towards consistent quantification of infections to enable future comparisons and meta-analyses of studies