Parasite infracommunity diversity in eels: A reflection of local component community diversity

  • Norton J
  • Lewis J
  • Rollinson D
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The intestinal macroparasite communities of freshwater eels (Anguilla anguilla) captured in the south of England from Windsor (River Thames) during August 2001, and Leckford (River Test) during late June/July 2000, are reported for the first time. Parasite component communities were among the most species rich and diverse recorded from European eels. A total of 13 intestinal macroparasite species were encountered during the study, 8 from each eel host population with 3 being common to both. Acanthocephalans, nematodes and cestodes were recovered from each host population. Eels from Windsor additionally harboured Nicolla gallica (Digenea), which was also the most prevalent and abundant macroparasite species in these hosts. Each component community followed a log normal rank abundance distribution and demonstrated reduced species dominance and increased species equitability compared with previous studies. As such, the study component communities were suitable for testing the hypothesis of low infracommunity diversity in European eel hosts. Specifically, this hypothesis predicts that the intestinal macroparasite infracommunities of European eels are species-poor, displaying low density and diversity with high dominance, irrespective of component community diversity, and that this may be more pronounced in UK host populations. This hypothesis was not upheld; study findings demonstrate that higher infracommunity diversity in eel hosts is possible, and suggest that infracommunity diversity in individual eel hosts may be a simple, stochastic reflection of component community diversity.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Anguilla anguilla
  • Component community
  • Diversity
  • Eel
  • Infracommunity
  • Macroparasite

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