Echinostomes are receiving increased attention because of their emerging parasite status in landscapes associated with human development and their ability to infect and kill many North American larval amphibians. While laboratory experiments have shown that echinostomes can cause extensive mortality in their amphibian hosts, their effect on tadpoles in the field is less clear. I conducted a controlled-infection field-enclosure experiment in 4 ponds to compare the effects of echinostomes on green frog (Rana clamitans) and gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles in the field. I measured tadpole growth, development, mortality, and infection intensity. Echinostome infection resulted in high mortality in green frog tadpoles and less mortality in gray tree frogs. However, metacercariae encystment rates were higher in gray tree frog tadpoles than in green frog tadpoles. The effect of echinostomes on mortality varies across amphibian species, with the result that some species may experience more extensive echinostome-induced mortality than others. Mortality as a result of echinostome infection in green frog tadpoles was similar to mortality observed in predation experiments.
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Vol. 96 • No. 5