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The Effects of Climate Change on Acanthocephalan Reproduction

Acanthocephalans are a type of parasitic worm with spiny heads. These parasites inhabit a variety of locations all over the world and also a variety of hosts. Studies have recently shown that parasites of various species have been thriving due to the negative effects climate change has on their hosts. The purpose of this study was to see how climate change affects these parasites directly, specifically how it affects their ability to reproduce. Will the increasing atmospheric and water temperature increase the rate of acanthocephalan reproduction or will it decrease it. To investigate this, acanthocephalans were extracted from a variety of harbor seals and sent to us at Westfield State. These parasites were then separated by gender and then the females were dissected to see if they were egg bearing. We could then compare the percentage of egg bearing females to the water temperature that the seals were found in to see if the acanthocephalans rate of reproduction was indeed influenced by climate change and different temperatures.

Sharlene Jumba, Megan Long '22
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