Echinostomes are widespread generalist helminths in North America that infect amphibians through the skin and take up residence in the kidney. Ouch. Heavy infections can kill amphibians andmoderate infections negatively impact individual health. Biotic and abiotic process such as host availability and nutrient runoff have been shown to drive trematode infections. In my study, I sampled parasites in Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) from wetlands in northeastern Colorado.
This project involved a good dose of public relations talking to farmers about sampling their ponds, testing the limits of the field Prius, and performing amphibian necropsies to the 80’s tunes. (I can never listen to New Order again without thinking about echinostomes and their hosts.) This project also involved extensive troubleshooting of zero-inflated generalized linear models, which are now an interest of mine.