, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 327-335

The effect of larval trematodes on the survival rates of two species of mud snails (hydrobiidae) experimentally exposed to desiccation, freezing and anoxia

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Abstract

Digenetic trematodes are widespread among mud snails (Hydrobiidae) living in coastal lagoons and estuaries, but knowledge is generally lacking on their impact on these host organisms. We examined the survival rates of infected and non-infected experimental populations of two mud snail species,Hydrobia ventrosa (Montagu) andHydrobia neglecta Muus, exposed to desiccation, freezing and anoxia in the laboratory. Our experiments indicated that non-infected groups of both species had similar survival rates after being subjected to desiccation and anoxia, whereasH. ventrosa survived freezing better thanH. neglecta. However, infected groups ofH. neglecta specimens subjected to desiccation showed significantly lower survival rates than non-infected groups. Infected and non-infected snails of both species exposed to freezing and anoxia exhibited similar survival rates. The possible mechanisms by which parasites influence their hosts are discussed. It is unlikely that the parasites in the present case mediate the coexistence of the twoHydrobia-species, because the snail with the highest reproductive effort-H. neglecta-showed lower infection rates in situ than its congenerH. ventrosa.