Project Title: Trematode Parasites of Tritia obsoleta
Principal Investigator(s): Lauren Dykman
Summary: I am surveying populations of the Eastern Mudsnail (Tritia obsoleta) in Waquoit Bay to locate snails that are parasitized by trematodes. These parasitic worms use three hosts in their life cycle, the first being the Mudsnail. Parasites live in the snail’s gonads and repeatedly shed clones into the water. I am collecting groups of snails and holding them in the lab for 24 hours to see if they shed parasites. I keep infected snails in order to study the behavior of their parasites. All uninfected snails get returned home to Waquoit Bay the following day.
Once parasites are shed from the snail, they have a limited amount of time to find their next host before they die. For the species that infect the Eastern Mudsnail, I want to learn how long they survive outside their host, what is their maximum swimming speed, what distance can they travel, and whether they respond behaviorally to host cues. All these measurements give a better idea of the likelihood of encountering hosts. This work is directed towards understanding population connectivity on both a small scale, and between distant estuaries along the Eastern Seaboard.