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Syst Parasitol. 2007 Feb;66(2):81-129. Epub 2006 Sep 14.

Parasite biodiversity in a coral reef fish: twelve species of monogeneans on the gills of the grouper Epinephelus maculatus (Perciformes: Serranidae) off New Caledonia, with a description of eight new species of Pseudorhabdosynochus (Monogenea: Diplectanidae).

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  • 1Equipe Biogéographie Marine Tropicale, Unité Systématique, Adaptation, Evolution (CNRS, UPMC, MNHN, IRD), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848, Nouméa Cedex, Nouvelle Calédonie. justine@ird.nc


Coral reefs are known for their high level of biodiversity, but parasite biodiversity has not been evaluated. Cases such as Epinephelus maculatus, described here, show that the numerical estimation of parasite biodiversity in coral reefs could reach more than ten times the number of fish species; consequently, the extinction of certain fish species from endangered coral reefs would result in the co-extinction of at least ten times the number of parasite species. E. maculatus is a grouper of intermediate size (1-2 kg) and common in the coral reefs of New Caledonia, South Pacific. Based on the examination of more than 800 monogenean specimens, 12 species of monogeneans (ten diplectanids and two ancyrocephalids) were differentiated on the gills. These species of diplectanids have not been found in other epinephelines in the same area and thus are considered as specific to this host. In addition, three species of copepods, and isopod larvae, are present on the gills; E. maculatus thus has a total of 16 species of gill ectoparasites, which can be found together on a single individual fish. Diplectanids include Laticola dae Journo & Justine, 2006, which is the most abundant species representing about 50% of the specimens, and nine species which are rare, each representing 2-7% of the specimens: Diplectanum uitoe n. sp. and eight species of Pseudorhabdosynochus Yamaguti, 1958. D. uitoe, provisionally attributed to Diplectanum Diesing, 1858, is characterised by a small conical penis with internal walls. Pseudorhabdosynochus auitoe n. sp., P. buitoe n. sp., P. cuitoe n. sp., P. duitoe n. sp., P. euitoe n. sp. and P. fuitoe n. sp. are differentiated on the basis of the morphology of the sclerotised vagina, but are very similar in other characteristics; P. guitoe n. sp. is characterised by a quadriloculate organ with very thick walls and a very small sclerotised vagina; and P. huitoe n. sp. is characterised by its sclerotised vagina and by very long ventral and dorsal haptoral bars. Two rare (2-3% of specimens) ancyrocephalids, Haliotrema epinepheli Young, 1969 and Haliotrema sp., are briefly described in relation to the male copulatory organs and haptoral bars; H. epinepheli is apparently a generalist species found in various epinephelines and other fish species. A table of the 50 species of diplectanids (Pseudorhabdosynochus, Laticola Yang et al., 2006, Echinoplectanum Justine & Euzet, 2006 and Diplectanum) from serranids is provided.

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