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The temperature threshold for development of Elaphostrongylus rangiferi in the intermediate host: an adaptation to winter survival?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2009

J. Schjetlein
Affiliation:
Department of Ecology/Zoology, IBG, University of Tromso, N-9037 Tromso, Norway
A. Skorping
Affiliation:
Department of Ecology/Zoology, IBG, University of Tromso, N-9037 Tromso, Norway

Summary

To test the hypothesis that the relatively high developmental temperature threshold of the parasitic nematode Elaphostrongylus rangiferi in the intermediate snail host is an adaptation to minimize larval mortality during winter, an experiment was set up in which snails of the species Arianta arbustorum were experimentally infected with the parasite. The snails were divided into 3 groups known to contain 1st, 2nd or 3rd-stage larvae, and incubated at 3 °C for an experimental period of 18 weeks. First-stage larvae showed a significantly higher survival rate within snails than 2nd or 3rd-stage larvae. We also found that snails carrying 1st-stage larvae survived better than snails with other larval stages. It is concluded that if the nematode has started development before the hibernation, this has a real and significant effect on the risk of dying. The high developmental threshold is therefore likely to be an adaptation to reduce the chance of hibernating as developing larvae during long periods of low temperatures.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

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