otter; helminths; former DDR; Austria; regional differences; body condition; heterozygosity; parasites;
The present study investigated the stomachs and/or guts of 313 otters (Lutra lutra) for helminth infestation. Samples of both sexes and two age groups were taken from 10 different ecological regions of the former DDR and Austria from 1990 to 1998. 18,6 % of the otters were found to be infested with an average of 9,52 helminths of four different species (Isthmiophora melis, Mesocestoides spp., Molineus patens, Uncinaria criniformis). The trematode Isthmiophora melis was the most prevalent species (17,3 %). Statistical evaluation regarding the connection between prevalence and intensity of helminth infestation and sex and age of the otter, season and various regions is provided only for the trematode Isthmiophora melis. Clear differences were revealed between both sexes. Not only prevalence but also intensity of infestation with Isthmiophora melis was significantly higher in females than in males. In reference to body condition, adults with high infestation of parasites (> 20 Isthmiophoramelisspecimen) showed a significantly lower level of fitness. No influence of degree of heterozygosty on parasite infestation was observed. Pseudoparasites (Ligula intestinalis larv., Schistocephalus sp., Passalurus ambiguus, Pomphorhynchus laevis, Polymorphus minutus, Acanthocephalus anguillae, Acanthocephalus lucii, Acanthocephalus sp.) were also found.
Availability: Universitaetsbibliothek der Veterinaermedizinischen Universitaet Wien, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Wien, Austria