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

C. P. Goater and P. I. Ward
Oecologia
Vol. 89, No. 2 (1992), pp. 161-165
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4219866
Page Count: 5
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Negative Effects of Rhabdias bufonis (Nematoda) on the Growth and Survival of Toads (Bufo bufo)
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Abstract

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.

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