ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS INFLUENCING COMMUNITY COMPOSITION OF GASTROPODS AND THEIR TREMATODE PARASITES IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO
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Agricultural activity and landscape features have previously been associated with diversity and prevalence of trematode species in amphibian second intermediate hosts. In this study, the density, diversity, and size of snail first intermediate hosts, and the diversity and prevalence of their trematode species, were assessed in 2 types of ponds, i.e., those adjacent to cornfields and those from the same region in southwestern Ontario that were adjacent to nonagricultural settings. Species of trematodes included, but were not restricted to, those that are known parasites of larval and adult frogs. We also assessed landscape factors likely to influence use by definitive hosts. Presence of the herbicide atrazine in ponds was measured to check that ponds adjacent to agriculture had potential to be affected by agricultural runoff. Both snail size and the proportion of snails releasing cercariae were greater in nonagricultural ponds, contrasting with a previous finding of lower trematode infection in tadpoles from nonagricultural ponds. Percentage of forest cover was associated with prevalence of certain trematode species, but not with estimates of combined prevalence. Absence of relations of trematode prevalence to measures of road density also contrasted with previous studies. We interpret our results in light of how agricultural activity might influence trematode viability, snail growth, and use by wildlife definitive hosts, independently of landscape factors.
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