Abstract

We studied helminth communities in sympatric populations of leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) and wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and assessed the effects of host species and life stage on helminth community composition and helminth species richness. We examined 328 amphibians including 218 northern leopard frogs and 110 wood frogs collected between April and August of 2009 and 2010 in the Sheyenne National Grasslands of southeastern North Dakota. Echinostomatid metacercariae were the most common helminths found, with the highest prevalence in metamorphic wood frogs. Host species significantly influenced helminth community composition, and host life stage significantly influenced the component community composition of leopard frogs. In these sympatric populations, leopard frogs were common hosts for adult trematodes whereas wood frogs exhibited a higher prevalence of nematodes with direct life cycles. Metamorphic frogs were commonly infected with echinostomatid metacercariae and other larval trematodes whereas juvenile and adult frogs were most-frequently infected with directly transmitted nematodes and trophically transmitted trematodes. Accordingly, helminth species richness increased with the developmental life stage of the host.

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