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Environmental constraints influencing survival of an African parasite in a north temperate habitat: effects of temperature on development within the host

  • R. C. TINSLEY (a1), J. E. YORK (a1), L. C. STOTT (a1), A. L. E. EVERARD (a1), S. J. CHAPPLE (a1) and M. C. TINSLEY (a2)...


The monogenean Protopolystoma xenopodis has been established in Wales for >40 years following introduction with Xenopus laevis from South Africa. This provides an experimental system for determining constraints affecting introduced species in novel environments. Parasite development post-infection was followed at 15, 20 and 25°C for 15 weeks and at 10°C for ⩾1 year and correlated with temperatures recorded in Wales. Development was slowed/arrested at ⩽10°C which reflects habitat conditions for >6 months/year. There was wide variation in growth at constant temperature (body size differing by >10 times) potentially attributable in part to genotype-specific host-parasite interactions. Parasite density had no effect on size but host sex did: worms in males were 1·8 times larger than in females. Minimum time to patency was 51 days at 25°C and 73 days at 20°C although some infections were still not patent at both temperatures by 105 days p.i. In Wales, fastest developing infections may mature within one summer (about 12 weeks), possibly accelerated by movements of hosts into warmer surface waters. Otherwise, development slows/stops in October–April, delaying patency to about 1 year p.i., while wide variation in developmental rates may impose delays of 2 years in some primary infections and even longer in secondary infections.


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*Corresponding author: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK. E-mail:


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