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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 202:143-151 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps202143

Ecophysiological studies of Corophium volutator (Amphipoda) infested by microphallid trematodes

Karin Meißner*, Thomas Schaarschmidt

University of Rostock, Department of Zoology, Universitätsplatz 5, 18051 Rostock, Germany

ABSTRACT: The impact of metacercaria infestation on the metabolic activity, thermal tolerance and freezing tolerance of Corophium volutator (Pallas, 1766) was investigated. Metabolic activity was measured by direct microcalorimetry at different temperatures and oxygen conditions. In 2 cases only, at 15°C/50% O2 and 10°C/100% O2, a positive correlation between infestation intensity and metabolic heat loss was found. At all temperatures examined, hypoxia down to 35% oxygen saturation did not have a significant effect on metabolic heat loss. With rising temperature, enhanced locomotory activity of C. volutator was observed during measurements, but an effect of infestation intensity was not found. According to the results of the thermal tolerance experiments, metacercaria infestation at studied intensities does not compromise infested hosts. In the freezing tolerance experiments, heavily infested C. volutator specimens survived better than specimens with lower infestation intensities. The results indicate a good adaptation of the parasite, because survival of the second intermediate host until consumed by the final host is essential for the completion of the life cycle of digenetic trematodes. It is concluded that under normal field conditions, changes of metabolic activity or reduced tolerance towards thermal stress and freezing as a result of metacercaria infestation should not be responsible for mass mortality events observed in the field. The role of the developmental stage of the metacercaria and the possibly more severe impact caused by not yet or only recently encysted metacercariae, compared to metacercariae with multi-layered cyst walls, is discussed.

KEY WORDS: Corophium volutator · Amphipoda · Microphallidae · Microcalorimetry · Thermal tolerance · Freezing tolerance · Parasitism

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