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Some questions about a bird fluke.

James Mahaffy mahaffy at dordt.edu
Tue Apr 20 14:21:39 EST 1999


I have a student who is preparing for a directed research project.  We
plan to focus on the levels of  infestation of the digenetic fluke
Diplostomum baeri eucaliae in blue gill population in a local pond and
compare those to some other ponds.  The idea stems from a project
another student did for Zoology back in 1995, in which we found very
high levels of metacercariae in the flesh of a number of blue gills. 
The students made a video of the flukes and the level of infestation in
this video impressed a couple of the parasitologists at Lincoln,

However, even though I like parasitology, and give a strong emphasis to
it in Zoology, my professional research is a bit tangential
(paleoecology of Carboniferous coals) and I would like a bit of feedback
that could help me direct the student. 

Does anyone know how much variation there is usually in small lakes that
are heavily infested?  As far as we know no conditions have changed in
this lake.  One thing that makes it different from some of the other
local lakes and pits is that there is an aeration system that keep some
of it ice free year around and also allows waterfowl to remain there
year around.  Since the ultimate host is aquatic birds that might be one
of the reasons for higher levels of parasitism. I would hate to have us
committed to the project and then not find any infested blue gills
because of natural fluctuations in infestation. 

When I was originally helping some students with a Zoo project, I had
heard that cercaria infestation could be monitored by putting snails
into beakers or jars and periodically checking them for cercaria
release.  Is there a better way and what is the best way of preserving
cercariae?  We have standard histological chemicals and stains. 
James Mahaffy (mahaffy at dordt.edu)      Phone: 712 722-6279
Biology Department                     FAX :  712 722-1198
Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250

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