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      Regulation of mouse colony abundance by Heligmosomoides polygyrus.

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      Parasitology

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          Abstract

          Despite the ubiquitous presence of parasites, parasitism has not been considered among the list of regulatory factors in animal populations until recently. A detailed long-term study on the impact of the direct life-cycle nematode Heligmosomoides polygyrus on a breeding population of laboratory mice provides a clear example of the ability of helminths to regulate host abundance. In the absence of the parasite, the mouse population equilibrated at a density of 320 mice/m2 as a result of density-dependent effects on recruitment. When the parasite was added and transmission was maintained at high levels, infected mouse populations equilibrated at densities of less than 18 mice/m2. Reduced rates of parasite transmission and elimination of the parasite from the system both resulted in an increase in mouse density. These results have implications for both ecology and parasitology as they demonstrate a potentially important but often ignored component of host populations that may well influence host abundance and community structure.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Parasitology
          Parasitology
          0031-1820
          0031-1820
          Aug 1987
          : 95 ( Pt 1)
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Institute of Parasitology, Macdonald College of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada.
          Article
          3670894

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