Parasitism has the potential to affect key life history traits of an infected host. Perhaps the most studied interactions are in snail–trematode systems, where infection can result in altered growth rates, survival, and/or fecundity of the individual. Positive correlations between host size and parasite prevalence are often attributed to changes in growth rates or mortality, which have been observed in the laboratory. Extending lab-based conclusions to the natural setting is problematic, especially when environmental conditions differ between the laboratory and the field. The present study uses reproduction experiments and mark– recapture methods to directly measure key life history traits of the pulmonate snail Helisoma anceps in Charlie's Pond. Based on previous laboratory and field experiments on H. anceps, we predict a significant reduction in fecundity, but not growth rate or survival, of infected snails. Individual capture histories were analyzed with multistate models to obtain estimates of survival and infection probabilities throughout the year. Recaptured individuals were used to calculate specific growth rates. Trematode infection resulted in complete castration of the host. However, neither survival nor growth rates were found to differ between infected and uninfected individuals. The probability of infection exhibited seasonal variation, but it did not vary with size of the snail. These results suggest that the correlation between host size and trematode prevalence is not due to differential mortality or changes in growth rates. Instead, the infection accumulates in large snails via the growth of smaller, infected individuals.
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