Abstract

Seasonal dynamics of 2 trematode species, Cyathocotyle bushiensis and Sphaeridiotrema globulus, were assessed in relation to life history traits of the parasites and their hosts, as well as abundance of host species and abundance of infective stages. Both of these trematodes are associated with recurrent mortality of migrating waterbirds on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. An invasive snail species, Bithynia tentaculata, serves as intermediate host for both trematode species. In total, 2,970 snails were collected at 2 study sites. Prevalence and mean abundance of the 2 trematode species varied among dates and was attributed to several factors, including migration patterns of definitive hosts, snail population dynamics, and seasonal changes in temperature. The surge of new infections of both parasites seems to be due to avian hosts foraging at this site during spring migration. The high prevalence and abundance of metacercariae among the snail population promote mortality among molluscivorous birds by increasing the probability of ingestion of a lethal dose. Additionally, mortality of non-molluscivorous birds can be explained by accidental ingestion of a couple of highly infected snails resulting in a lethal dose.

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