Comparative recruitment, morphology and reproduction of a generalist trematode, Dicrocoelium dendriticum, in three species of host.

Beck, M.A., Goater, C.P., and Colwell, D.D. (2015). "Comparative recruitment, morphology and reproduction of a generalist trematode, Dicrocoelium dendriticum, in three species of host.", Parasitology (FR). doi : 10.1017/S0031182015000621  Access to full text

Abstract

Epidemiological rate parameters of host generalist parasites are difficult to estimate, especially in cases where variation in parasite performance can be attributed to host species. Such cases are likely common for generalist parasites of sympatric grazing mammals. In this study, we combined data from experimental exposures in cattle and sheep and natural infections in elk to compare the recruitment, morphology and reproduction of adult Dicrocoelium dendriticum, a generalist trematode that has emerged in sympatric grazing hosts in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta. Overall, there were no significant differences in the recruitment of metacercariae and in the pre-patency period of adults in experimentally exposed cattle and sheep. All flukes reached reproductive maturity and the degree of reproductive inequality between individual flukes within each infrapopulation was moderate and approximately equal among the three host species. Neither fluke size nor per capita fecundity was constrained by density dependence. Thus, fitness parameters associated with growth and reproduction were approximately equivalent among at least three species of definitive host, two of which are sympatric on pastures in this Park. The generalist life-history strategy of this trematode, which is known to extend to other stages of its life cycle, has likely contributed to its invasion history outside its native range in Europe.

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