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, 89 (2), 161-165

Negative Effects of Rhabdias Bufonis (Nematoda) on the Growth and Survival of Toads (Bufo Bufo)


Negative Effects of Rhabdias Bufonis (Nematoda) on the Growth and Survival of Toads (Bufo Bufo)

C P Goater et al. Oecologia.


The growth and survival of juvenile toads, Bufo bufo, infected with a common lung nematode, Rhabdias bufonis, were studied. Toads were raised from tadpoles in the laboratory and infected 2 months after metamorphosis. Individual toads were exposed to doses of 10, 40, 80 or 160 larvae, which enabled examination of the hypothesis that parasite-induced mortality is affected by worm numbers. Growth of infected toads began to diverge from that of uninfected controls at 6 weeks post infection (WPI) and by 12 WPI the most heavily infected toads were approximately half the mass of controls. No controls died throughout the experiment; however, mortality of infected toads was strongly affected by parasite density. A mechanism for mortality is suggested by the significant negative relationship between parasite density and dietary intake. This parasite-induced anorexia was detected at 3 WPI and persisted up to 9 WPI. Patterns of reduced host growth, survival and dietary intake provide experimental evidence of the negative consequences of parasitic infection in a natural parasite-host system which may also be present under natural conditions.

Keywords: Bufo; Growth; Parasitism; Rhabdias; Survival.

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