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The effect of the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus laevis upon the respiration of its intermediate host, Gammarus pulex

  • A. E. Rumpus (a1) and C. R. Kennedy (a1)


The respiration rates of individual Gammarus pulex infected by larval Pomphorhynchus laevis were investigated with particular reference to the stage of development of the host and parasite and to the water temperature. At 20°C the oxygen consumption of Gammarus of all sizes was reduced by an average of 19·3 % by the presence of cystacanths of the parasite, but was unaffected by the presence of acanthellae. It is considered that the small size of this larval stage, in relation to that of its host, is responsible for the failure to detect an effect. Multiple infections did not exert any greater effect upon host respiration than single cystacanths, nor did it appear that the parasite had different effects upon hosts of different sexes. At 10°C no significant differences were observed between the respiration rates of infected and uninfected gammarids. The parasite was probably still depressing the host respiration rate at this temperature, but the oxygen uptake of G. pulex is so low that the differences between infected and uninfected individuals were too small to be detected. The parasite has a direct effect upon the physiological processes of the host, but neither the mechanism of this nor the reasons for the different effects found in different host-parasite systems are yet understood. Despite the pronounced effect of P. laevis on respiration of individual hosts, its effect upon the oxygen consumption of a natural host population is small since only a small proportion of the population carries infections and water temperatures remain below 10°C for over half the year.



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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
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