Population density, or crowding, was examined to determine its effect on the morphometric variability of Echinostoma caproni (Digenea) in ICR mice. Six mice were infected with 25 and 100 metacercariae, and a single mouse was infected with 300 metacercariae. All mice were infected at necropsy 22 days postinfection with recoveries of 77%, 69%, and 7.3%, respectively. Whole mounts were prepared, and 31 characters were evaluated (25 direct measurements and 6 ratios). Univariate and multivariate statistical analysis revealed significant differences between adult worms from all 3 groups. Twenty-seven of 31 characters showed significant within-group differences, with the primary differences between worms from 25/100 versus 300 metacercariae infections. Discriminant function analysis yielded a 100% correct classification based on infection size, which is consistent with studies on distinct species of Echinostoma. The low recovery from the mouse infected with 300 metacercariae suggests inflammatory expulsion of juvenile worms and the possibility of immunity as a factor in the crowding effect. These results suggest that external factors may affect morphometric variability of digenetic trematodes to a larger degree than previously recognized.

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