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Parasitology

Using macro-parasites of the otter to investigate how parasite populations are regulated. 

Ellie Sherrard-Smith completed her PhD in 2013 and followed the discovery of two species of digenean parasite in otter gall bladders, thought to be new to the UK. Pseudamphistomum truncatum was discovered by Vic Simpson (Simpson et al., 2005) in otters from Somerset, and Metorchis albidus was found subsequently at Cardiff University Otter Project (Sherrard-Smith et al., 2009). Both parasites have a complex life cycle utilising a snail and then a fish host before entering the definitive host eg the otter.

Parasite

Otter parasite prevalence recorded by the Otter Project:

  • P. truncatum 11.7%
  • M. albidus 6.6%
  • Ixodid hexagonus 24%

Funding

Funding for parasitological research has been provided by NERC, and the Somerset Otter Group

Further reading

  • Sherrard-Smith E., Chadwick E.A., Cable J. (2014). The impact of introduced hosts on parasite transmission: opisthorchiid infections in American mink (Neovison vison) Biological invasions 16:6. (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-014-0709-y/fulltext.html)
  • Chadwick E.A., Cable J., Chinchen A., Francis J., Guy E., Kean E.F., Paul S.C., Perkins S.E., Sherrard-Smith E., Wilkinson C., Forman D. (2013). Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) in England and Wales. Parasites and Vectors 6: 75 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-6-75
  • Sherrard-Smith E., Chadwick E.A., Cable J. (2013). Climatic variables are associated with the prevalence of biliary trematodes in otters. International Journal for Parasitology 43: 729-737 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2013.04.006
  • Sherrard-Smith E., Chadwick, E.A., Cable, J. (2012). Abiotic and biotic factors associated with tick population dynamics on a mammalian host: Ixodes hexagonus Infesting on Otters, Lutra lutra. PLoS One 7: e47131 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047131
  • Sherrard-Smith E., Cable J., Chadwick E.A. (2009). Distribution of Eurasian otter biliary parasites, Pseudamphistomum truncatum and Metorchis albidus (Family: Opisthorchiidae), in England and Wales. Parasitology 136: 1015-1022 http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031182009006362