Representatives of Leptorhynchoides thecatus (Acanthocephala) inhabit ceca of green sunfish but cannot survive in the anterior intestine. The influence of elevated cecal protein concentrations, pH, and amounts of lumenal materials on the microhabitat specificity of L. thecatus was investigated. An attempt was made to alter the distribution of worms in starved fish, in fish of which cecal pH was reduced, and in fish of which intestinal protein concentration was elevated. Protein concentration and pH showed no effect on worm distribution. Starving hosts had no effect on worm number or distribution but resulted in retardation of worm growth and development, providing a mechanism by which worms may overwinter and by which peak egg production may coincide with abundance of the amphipod intermediate host. None of the factors investigated is solely responsible for the microhabitat specificity of L. thecatus. It is suggested that helminth site specificity is characterized by long histories of adaptation to specific habitats with many physiological adaptations being facilitated synergistically. Maximization of sexual congress may exert an important selective pressure favoring this establishment of microhabitat specificity.

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