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Populations of strongyloid nematode infective stages in sheep pastures: Comparison between direct pasture sampling and tracer lambs as estimators of larval abundance

Waller, P.J., Dobson, R.J., Donald, A.D. and Thomas, R.J. (1981) Populations of strongyloid nematode infective stages in sheep pastures: Comparison between direct pasture sampling and tracer lambs as estimators of larval abundance. International Journal for Parasitology, 11 (5). pp. 359-367.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0020-7519(81)90006-0
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Abstract

Populations of strongyloid nematode infective stages in sheep pastures : comparison between direct pasture sampling and tracer lambs as estimators of larval abundance. International Journal for Parasitology11: 359–367. Over a 2-year period, numbers of infective larvae in samples of pasture herbage, and numbers of worms in previously worm-free “tracer” lambs allowed 4 weeks grazing, were compared as estimators of the abundance of infective larvae on pastures.

Transformation of sample estimates of infective larval numbers per 100 g herbage dry matter (DM) and of worm numbers in tracer sheep, according to the expression y = log10 (x+25), was effective in stabilizing variances. Estimates of error variance for each technique did not differ significantly among the genera Haemonchus, Ostertagia or Trichostrongylus and the pooled estimate for the tracer sheep method was 4 times greater than that for pasture sampling. From these results, more tracer sheep than pasture samples would be required to achieve the same level of precision with the two techniques. Using conventional statistical methods, the effects of numbers of pasture samples or tracer sheep on the size of the difference between two means which can be detected as significant and on the width of the confidence interval about a single mean, are illustrated. These can be used as a guide in the choice of sample sizes. Error variances for Nematodirus spp. were significantly less than for the other genera by pasture sampling, and greater by the tracer sheep technique. Possible reasons for this are discussed, but it is concluded that pasture sampling is likely to be much the more precise method for estimating Nematodirus spp. infective larval availability.

Changes with time in infective larval abundance, for Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus and Nematodirus spp. which were present in moderate to low numbers, followed similar trends by both techniques. However, for Ostertagia spp. larvae, which were much more abundant, peak levels were defined more sharply and occurred earlier by pasture sampling than by the tracer method. It is suggested that worm counts from tracer sheep, especially those grazing for 4 weeks rather than shorter periods, may systematically underestimate the infective larval population on pasture at high levels of abundance owing to density-dependent worm loss.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 1981 Published by Elsevier Ltd
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/8071
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