Research Article

The viability of Sphaeridiotrema pseudoglobulus (Digenea) eggs following cold water storage as a possible overwintering strategy

C. W. McKindseya1 and J. D. McLaughlina1

a1 Department of Biology, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montréal, Québec, Canada H3G 1M8


Sphaeridiotrema pseudoglobulus is a digenean parasite believed to be involved in a yearly fall die-off of ducks in Québec, Canada. Hatching characteristics of eggs stored at 7°C for 0–28 weeks in the lab and following maintenance overwinter in a lake are described. The hatching success of eggs stored for 4–28 weeks remained constant (71–81 %) but slightly less than that observed in fresh eggs (90%). The hatching success of eggs kept overwinter under natural conditions did not differ from that of eggs stored an equivalent length of time in the lab at 7°C (74·7 and 75·8%, respectively). With the exception of fresh eggs (17·7 days), the mean hatch time of eggs steadily decreased with increased storage time (18·9 days following 4 weeks storage to 11·4 days at 28 weeks storage) due to a slow embryonation of the eggs at 7°C. Hatching characteristics of a subsample of eggs incubated at 10, 15 and 20°C were compared and the embryonation rate was found to increase with incubation temperature. The majority of eggs stored at 10°C embryonated but failed to hatch. When their incubation temperature was raised to 15°C, a further 46% hatched within the following week. The survivorship functions of miracidia hatching from eggs stored for 8, 12, 16 and 20 weeks differed but the mean expected life-span of the miracidia did not decline with increasing storage time as expected. The results of these experiments are discussed in relation to the potential importance of overwintered eggs in the development of the infective pool of metacercariae.

(Received December 30 1992)

(Revised March 20 1993)

(Accepted March 20 1993)