New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1991) 15(1): 23- 30

Age-Specific Prevalence and a Possible Transmission Route for Skrjabingylosis in New Zealand Stoats, Mustela erminea

Research Article
Carolyn M. King  
  1. Royal Society of New Zealand, P.O. Box 598, Wellington, New Zealand

The prevalence of infestation of the skulls of stoats with the parasitic nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola was previously described in a national survey by King and Moody (1982). Since then, more samples from Craigieburn Forest Park and from the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland, have been collected, and a method of determining the actual ages of adult stoats has been developed. The extended samples are here examined for a relationship between infestation and age, which could not previously be tested. Prevalence generally increases with age, significantly so at Craigieburn. Stoats which had lived through one or more beech (Nothofagus solandri:) mast years at Craigieburn were significantly more likely to be infested, when the effects of age were allowed for. The hypothesis is advanced that the paratenic host for S. nasicola in New Zealand is the feral house mouse, Mus musculus, which is more numerous after a heavy beech seed fall.