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Int J Parasitol. 1998 Mar;28(3):461-74.

Latitudinal differences in species and community richness and in community structure of metazoan endo- and ectoparasites of marine teleost fish.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.


Relative species diversity of gastrointestinal helminths of 55 teleost fish species did not differ significantly at different latitudes, whereas relative species diversity of metazoan ectoparasites on the heads and gills of 108 teleost fish species showed a significant increase with decreasing latitude and from deep to surface waters. Abundance of endoparasites also was the same at all latitudes, whereas abundance of ectoparasites increased with decreasing latitude and from deep to shallow waters. A comparative analysis using phylogenetically independent contrasts supported these conclusions. Possible reasons for the differences between endo- and ectoparasites are discussed. A detailed analysis of the community structure of gastrointestinal helminths of five Antarctic and three tropical teleosts and of metazoan ectoparasites on the heads and gills of five Antarctic and seven tropical fish species showed the following: abundance and prevalence of infection of endoparasites are similar in Antarctic and tropical fish, but are much greater for tropical than for Antarctic ectoparasites. Relative species diversity of endoparasites is similar for Antarctic and tropical endoparasites, but much greater for tropical than Antarctic ectoparasites. In both Antarctic and tropical fish, different fish of the same species may have different dominant species of endo- and ectoparasites, although there is a greater range of dominant species of tropical ectoparasites, a consequence of the greater species pool available. The most dominant parasite (irrespective of species) represented 80-99% of all endoparasites of Antarctic, and about 50-80% of all endoparasites of tropical fish. The most dominant parasites (irrespective of species) represented about 90-100% of all ectoparasites of Antarctic, and about 20-70% of all ectoparasites of tropical fish, the difference a consequence of the greater species pool of tropical ectoparasites available. The data suggest that both endo- and ectoparasites live in assemblages not structured by interspecific competition.

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