Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 725–734 | Cite as

Parasites and headless chaetognaths in the Indian Ocean

Research Article

Abstract

Typhloscolecid polychaetes, assigned to the genera Typhloscolex (Typhloscolex muelleri) and Travisiopsis (Travisiopsis dubia), feeding on chaetognaths are reported for the first time from the Indian Ocean. These parasitic/predatory polychaetes cause decapitation in the chaetognath Flacisagitta enflata, either by eating the head or by causing injuries to the neck or body. Data from eastern Africa to western India showed a peak of polychaete infestation and decapitation of F. enflata in the Seychelles. A 5% peak occurrence (turnover rate is unknown) of decapitated individuals indicates that this parasitism/predation may have an important impact on local F. enflata populations. The harpacticoid copepod Microsetella norwegica was found feeding on the head and the reproductive organs of F. enflata. Therefore, this copepod may cause both decapitation and castration. Flatworm parasites are reported from the body cavity of F. enflata. Digeneans probably belonging to the genera Aphanurus, Parahemiurus, Accacladocoelium and Opechona, along with the accacoeliid Cercaria owreae and didymozoid metacercariae, were found. Cestode larvae were also recovered. No nematodes were found inside chaetognaths in this study.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are most grateful to M. Madhupratap, D. Currie, T. Lynch, R. Scheinberg and R. Giesecke for providing the plankton samples from Goa, Kuwait, Rodriguez, Hawaii, and Chile, respectively. We thank M. Cardinale for help during zooplankton sampling, and M. Callow and the Island Development Company for logistic support in the Seychelles. We are also indebted to M.A. Fernández-Álamo for identifying polychaetes, F. Pleijel and M.A. Fernández-Álamo for helpful comments on the manuscript, M. Køie for mounting the internal parasites, and G. Malmberg for use of SEM. Financial support was given by Orvar och Gertrud Nybelins Fond. The work described in this paper was undertaken as part of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)—Royal Society Shoals of Capricorn Programme, western Indian Ocean, 1998–2001. This is Shoals contribution no. P051

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Marine ResearchNational Board of FisheriesLysekilSweden
  2. 2.Parasitic Worms Division, Department of ZoologyThe Natural History MuseumLondon UK

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