As a test of the energy limitation hypothesis (ELH), we predicted that temperature would have a significant influence on the infectivity of metacercariae of the digenetic trematode Zygocotyle lunata. Snails infected with Z. lunata were collected from ponds near Crawfordsville, Indiana, isolated at room temperature, and examined for the release of cercariae. Newly encysted metacercariae were collected and incubated 1–30 days at 1 of 5 temperatures (0, 3, 25, 31, 37 C). Twenty-five cysts were fed to each of 5 or 10 mice per treatment group (temperature). At 17 days postinfection, mice were killed and worms were recovered; data were collected on levels of infection in each group and the total body area of each worm. No worms were found in mice fed cysts that had been held at 0 C or 37 C (after 30 days). There were no differences in prevalence, infectivity, or mean intensity among the 3, 25, and 31 C treatments. Infectivity of metacercariae incubated at 37 C for 1 day was significantly greater than in all other treatments, while infectivity of metacercariae in the 37 C/15-day treatment was significantly lower than in all others. Mean body area of worms at 37 C/15 days was significantly greater than at other temperatures, suggesting density-dependent increases in growth. These results, particularly those from the 37 C treatments, are consistent with the ELH; infectivity was lower at high temperatures or when incubated for more time at 1 temperature (fewer energy reserves). It is suggested that microhabitat conditions experienced by metacercariae of Z. lunata could contribute to longer larval life, thus influencing this parasite's temporal dispersal.
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