A population study of the metastrongylid nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola in the weasel Mustela nivalis

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Abstract

Analyses of adult worms of Skrjabingylus nasicola occurring in the nasal sinuses of the weasel Mustela nivalis from three localities in the British Isles show that the intensity of infestation can be correlated with increasing severity of skull damage, which in turn increases as the weasel ages. It is suggested that, apart from hormonal differences, the smaller sized female skull is likely to be linked with lower levels of infestation in female compared with male weasels. Also a reduction in mean worm length in female skulls and in heavy infestations of S. nasicola is probably the result of a “crowding effect”, previously described for other helminth infections in the definitive host. Crowding appears to have no effect on the sex ratio of worm populations, although there is a tendency for the ratio of female: male worms to increase in female weasels. Reasons for this are discussed.

Ancillary