In this comparative behavioral study, the effect of infection with Schistosoma mansoni on its snail intermediate host Biomphalaria glabrata was investigated. Three groups of snails were compared for their activity: (1) uninfected, (2) infected with male parasites, and (3) infected with female parasites. In solitary movement trials, uninfected snails traveled greater distances at faster rates, explored more surface area, and had shorter rest periods than snails infected with either male or female schistosomes. In Y-maze experiments designed to determine attraction, the uninfected snails more often and more quickly moved toward other snails than the infected individuals. Snails from all 3 groups were more attracted to infected individuals than to uninfected ones. There was no difference in attraction toward snails infected with male or female parasites. These experiments provide evidence that behavioral alterations as a result of infection may lead to aggregation of infected snails in the field. We propose that such an effect may result in enhanced parasite transmission.
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