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Parasitol Res. 2012 Sep;111(3):1049-58. doi: 10.1007/s00436-012-2930-x. Epub 2012 May 15.

Acanthocephalans in northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) on St. Paul Island, Alaska: species, prevalence, and biodiversity in four fur seal subpopulations.

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  • 1Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology NAS of Ukraine, vul. B. Khmelnyts'kogo, 15, Kyiv, 01601, Ukraine. taniak@izan.kiev.ua


Monitoring studies of acanthocephalans in northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus Linnaeus, 1758) (NFSs) and a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina Linnaeus, 1758) were performed on St. Paul Island, Alaska, in July-August 2011. Gastrointestinal tracts of 105 humanely harvested NFS subadult males (SAMs) (3-4 years old) were collected during the annual Aleut subsistence harvest at four haul-out areas (HOAS): Lukanin (n = 26 NFSs), Polovina (n = 28), Gorbatch (n = 30), and Morzhovyi (n = 21). One gastrointestinal tract collected from a harbor seal (about 3-4 years old) found dead at Morzhovyi HOAS was also examined. The total prevalence of infection in NFSs with acanthocephalans was 29.52 % with variations from 7.69 % to 47.62 % between the four different HOAS. Eight acanthocephalan species of two genera-Corynosoma Lühe, 1904 (Corynosoma strumosum, Corynosoma alaskensis, Corynosoma cameroni, Corynosoma semerme, Corynosoma similis, Corynosoma validum, and Corynosoma villosum), and Bolbosoma Porta, 1908 (Bolbosoma nipponicum)-were found in the NFSs and a harbor seal. This is a new record of C. alaskensis for the NFSs. Short biological notes of the species found are presented. Differences in species composition as well as in prevalence of acanthocephalans parasitizing NFSs were observed in subpopulations from four different HOAS on St. Paul Island. The highest biodiversity of acanthocephalans and infection were found in subpopulations on Polovina and Morzhovyj HOAS, the lowest was on Lukanin HOAS. From 3.2 % (for C. validum) to 19.4 % (for C. villosum) of NFSs were infected by one acanthocephalan species; two species were found in 22.6 %; three in 9.7 %; and four in 3.2 %. Further studies of NFS parasites are necessary to follow the trends in parasitic infection rates and diversity in NFS population on the Pribilov Islands and for monitoring the influence of various ecological factors on NFS populations in Alaska.

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