The occurrence of the crowding effect was demonstrated in plerocercoids of the cestode Schistocephalus solidus infecting threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus from Walby and Scout lakes, Alaska. Contrary to an earlier report, relatively large numbers of parasites (>3–4 plerocercoids) were observed to grow large enough in an intermediate host fish to become competent to infect and to mature in the definitive host under any of 3 assumed threshold values and 1 scenario of graded sizes for parasite competency. In Walby Lake, intensity and host body mass were significant predictors of mean plerocercoid mass per host, whereas intensity, host body mass, and combined parasite index were significant predictors in Scout Lake. Slopes of equations expressing the relationship between mean parasite mass and intensity for both lakes were less than 1, implying that processes other than or in combination with simple resource limitation might be producing the observed crowding effect. The causal mechanism for the crowding effect could include exploitative competition, interference competition, and host immune response. There were significant differences in infection between the two lakes, including different distributions of parasite intensities among hosts and different expressions of the crowding effect; however, an explanation of the differences awaits further investigation.

You do not currently have access to this content.