Sarcocystis cernae: A parasite increasing the risk of predation of its intermediate host, Microtus arvalis

I. Hoogenboom, C. Dijkstra

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    1) The transmission dynamics of the protozoan parasite Sarcocystis carnae (Apicomplexa, Eimeroidea, Sarcocystidae) in natural populations were studied in the Lauwersmeerpolder in the northern Netherlands. This parasite needs two hosts to complete its life cycle; the common vole (Microtus arvalis) as its intermediate host and the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) which preys on the vole, as its final host. 2) Seasonal variation in prevalence of infection in snap-trapped common voles was determined in two years, 1984 and 1985. It was found to be lowest in November (6% of the voles infected) and it increased gradually to a peak in May (33%). 3) Data collected in three successive kestrel breeding seasons (1983-'85) revealed that voles in the kestrel summer diet are infected twice as frequently as those in snap-trap samples, 21% and 9% respectively. This difference (P<0.05, X2-test) suggests that the parasite influences its intermediate host behaviour in such a way that it enhances the probability of parasite transmission to the final host.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-92
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-1987


    • Parasite
    • Predation risk
    • Kestrel
    • Microtus
    • Sarcocystis

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