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Effect of intermediate host size (cerastoderma edule) on infectivity of cercariae of three himasthla species (echinostomatidae, trematoda)

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  • A.M. Wegeberg, Inst. Biol. Sci., Univ. Aarhus, F.
  • ,
  • X. De Montaudouin, URA 197 Univ. Bordeaux 1-CNRS, 2 R.
  • ,
  • K.T. Jensen
To understand prevalence patterns of parasites in marine host populations experimental infection studies are required. Bivalves are important host organisms to a variety of trematodes species and in our study area (Wadden Sea) three different Himasthla species co-occur in cockle populations. These species are morphologically very similar but differ with respect to various morphometric dimensions. To study the possible functional importance of differences between Himasthla cercariae (the free-living stage shed from prosobranch snails and encysting as metacercariae in bivalves), we experimentally measured the infectivity of the three congeners in regard to different size groups of juvenile cockles. The smallest species, H. interrupta, has a high infectivity in small cockles (optimum around 4 mm), whereas the two other congeners H. continua and H. elongata exhibit low infection efficiencies in cockles less than 6 mm and higher efficiencies in larger cockles. Behavioural experiments were performed to identify proximate causes underlying the observed infection patterns. Parasite avoidance behaviour of the cockle varies in a host-parasite size-dependent manner so that a large cercaria tend to provoke an avoidance response in a small cockle. The possible consequences of the observed host size preferences in relation to definitive host species (waterbirds) are discussed and it is suggested that one or more of the parasite species are adapted to other host species and that their sympatric occurrence in cockles in our study area is a result of a spinoff from their main cycle mediated through migratory birds.
TidsskriftJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Sider (fra-til)259-269
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 15 maj 1999

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