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Parasitol Int. 2014 Apr;63(2):285-94. doi: 10.1016/j.parint.2013.11.009. Epub 2013 Nov 28.

Biogeography of tropical Indo-West Pacific parasites: a cryptic species of Transversotrema and evidence for rarity of Transversotrematidae (Trematoda) in French Polynesia.

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School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia. Electronic address:
Biodiversity Program, Queensland Museum, P.O. Box 3300, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101, Australia. Electronic address:
Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK. Electronic address:
USR 3278 CNRS EPHE, Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement (CRIOBE), BP 1013, Papetoai, Moorea, French Polynesia; Laboratoire d'Excellence CORAIL, French Polynesia. Electronic address:
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia. Electronic address:


We sought transversotrematid trematodes from French Polynesian fishes by examining 304 individual scaled fishes of 53 species from seven families known to harbour the family elsewhere. A single species was found at two locations in the Tuamotus Archipelago on two species of Chaetodontidae (Chaetodon auriga and Chaetodon ephippium) and one species of Lutjanidae (Lutjanus gibbus). The species closely resembles Transversotrema borboleta Hunter & Cribb, 2012 from chaetodontids and lutjanids of the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) but differs from it consistently in 8 base positions of ITS2 rDNA. This level of variation exceeds that between some clearly morphologically distinct pairs of species of Transversotrema and the form from French Polynesia is thus interpreted as a distinct, though cryptic, species and named Transversotrema polynesiae n. sp. The new species forms part of a complex of species, here characterised as the T. borboleta complex, associated with chaetodontids and lutjanids in the tropical Indo-West Pacific. Most of the putative species within this complex are yet to be described. Comparison of identical numbers of matched samples of fishes from French Polynesia, Heron Island (southern GBR) and Lizard Island (northern GBR) revealed 1, 4 and 10 species of Transversotrema respectively suggesting that the French Polynesian fauna is depauperate for this family. In addition to those species apparently missing from suitable hosts in French Polynesia, several species from further west infect fishes (especially Nemipteridae) that are themselves absent from French Polynesia. This dramatic east-west decline in richness contrasts strongly with what is known for monogeneans, which appear to maintain their richness over the same scale, and is more precipitate than is known for other groups of trematodes. The decline might be explained in part by the absence of the as yet unknown first intermediate hosts in French Polynesia. However, we predict that it is explained by other life cycle traits. We hypothesise that the characters of large short-lived cercariae, short-lived miracidia, the absence in the life-cycle of second intermediate hosts that are capable of transporting the species, and definitive and first intermediate hosts that have limited vagility combine to give marine Transversotrematidae limited dispersal capacity and a propensity for localised speciation.


Biogeography; Dispersal; French Polynesia; Richness; Transversotrematidae; Trematoda

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