Quantifying Metagonimoides oregonensis infection distribution and effects among stream salamander hosts
Wyderko, Jennifer Anne
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Metagonimoides oregonensis is a digenetic trematode that infects raccoons as definitive hosts, the snail Elimia proxima as a first intermediate host and in the southern Appalachians, encysts in the muscle tissue of a variety of second intermediate salamander hosts. My first study examined 289 individual salamanders representing six species from 23 streams in North Carolina to determine which species of salamanders are naturally infected. I found that five of the six species examined had natural infections, but that there was variation in infection intensity and prevalence among the species. Of the six species, Desmognathus quadramaculatus may be most important in transmission, as they had the highest prevalence and intensity of infection. This may be due to their long larval period, which results in a longer trematode accrual period. My second study explored the role of host and parasite behavior in driving infection dynamics in this system. I examined both parasite response to host chemical cues and host response to parasite presence and chemical cues. I did not see a behavioral response by either the parasite or the host, indicating behavior is probably less important in determining variable infection among hosts in this system, than are environmental and ecological factors. My final study examined the effect of cercariae exposure (n=0, 20, 60) on locomotor performance of D. quadramaculatus, Eurycea wilderae and Hyla versicolor. I did not see any effect on locomotor performance for any of the species.
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