ABSTRACT

Gregarine transmission depends upon the environmental encounter rate between viable infective oocysts and suitable hosts. Many factors determine the abundance and distribution of gregarine oocysts in the environment, but the primary factors are oocyst distribution, environmental persistence, and production rate. Prior studies have demonstrated factors affecting oocyst distribution and environmental persistence, but oocyst production rate is poorly understood. This study addresses the effects of gametocyst size on oocyst production. For each of 3 gregarine species, gametocyst size was determined, and the subsequent oocyst production of each gametocyst was quantified. Gregarine species with larger gametocysts produced more oocysts per gametocyst than species with smaller gametocysts. Likewise, within species, larger gametocysts produced more oocysts. The effect was stronger in larger gregarine species, probably as a reflection of the lower overall range of gametocyst size in the smaller gregarine species.

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