Abstract

Knowledge of population dynamics of parasites in freshwater snails from South America is scarce. The objective of the present study was to describe the infection dynamics of larval digeneans in the planorbid snail, Biomphalaria peregrina, during 2 sampling periods in a Patagonian temporary pond. In total, 1,003 snails were examined. Rediae of Notocotylus biomphalariae and Echinoparyphium sp., sporocysts of Cotylurus sp., and metacercariae of the 2 latter species were found. The overall prevalence was significantly higher in the second sampling period, always as single-species infections in the hepatopancreas. The presence of larvae in the first sampled snails of the second hydroperiod indicated that parasitized snails survive drought. Both species exhibited different seasonal prevalence patterns, with Echinoparyphium sp. present in all sampling months. Metacercariae of Echinoparyphium sp. occurred in the heart and kidney, and those of Cotylurus sp. between organs. No significant differences in overall prevalence of metacercariae were found, and a progressive rise in prevalence from spring to summer for both species was observed. Almost all size classes of B. peregrina were infected with metacercariae of both species, but rediae and sporocysts were present only in snails larger than 3.1 mm. The predictability of the hydroperiod year after year, the tolerance of B. peregrina to drought, and the survival of infected specimens allows the parasite community to show a similar pattern of infection over time. This is the first study in Argentina analyzing the infection dynamics of digeneans of a pulmonate snail from a temporary pond.

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