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Snail–trematode life history interactions: past trends and future directions

  • R. E. SORENSEN (a1) and D. J. MINCHELLA (a1)

Life history traits expressed by organisms vary due to ecological and evolutionary constraints imposed by their current environmental conditions and genetic heritage. Trematodes often alter the life history of their host snails by inducing parasitic castration. Our understanding of the variables that influence the resulting changes in host growth, fecundity and survivorship is insufficient to confidently predict specific outcomes of novel snail–trematode combinations. In a literature review of the last 30 years, we found 41 publications examining various life history characteristics of trematode-infected snails. These publications reported 113 different field and laboratory experiments involving 30 snail species and 39 trematode species and provided a data set for assessing factors that potentially affect life history outcomes. Analysis of the diverse responses across various snail–trematode systems and experimental conditions teased out general patterns for the expression of host growth, fecundity and survival. These were used to address existing hypotheses and develop several new ones relating the response of snail-trematode interactions to environmental and genetic factors. Finally, we propose directions for future experiments that will better assess the ecological and evolutionary factors influencing snail life history responses to trematode parasitism.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: R. E. Sorensen, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Tel: (765) 494-9103. Fax: (765) 494-0876. E-mail:
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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