Participation of metanauplii and juvenile individuals of Artemia parthenogenetica (Branchiopoda) in the circulation of avian cestodes
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Adult crustaceans of the genus Artemia (brine shrimps) are intermediate hosts in the life cycle of cestode species parasitic in aquatic birds as their definitive hosts. However, there are no data on the role of larval and juvenile brine shrimps in the transmission of avian helminth parasites. In order to examine the possible role of early developmental stages (nauplii, metanauplii and juveniles) of Artemia for the circulation of avian cestodes, the natural cestode infection in the population of Artemia parthenogenetica from La Mata Lagoon, Mediterranean coast of Spain, was studied. Metacestodes (cysticercoids) of four cestode species were recorded in adult brine shrimps: Flamingolepis liguloides and Flamingolepis flamingo (hymenolepidids parasitic in flamingos), Confluaria podicipina (a hymenolepidid species parasitic in grebes) and Eurycestus avoceti (a dilepidid species parasitic in avocets, stilts, plovers and, to a lesser extent, in flamingos). No cysticercoids were found in nauplii. Two species, F. liguloides and F. flamingo, were found in metanauplii and juvenile brine shrimps. Only 36.3% of the cysticercoids of F. liguloides occurred in adult brine shrimps; the remaining 63.7% were parasitic in metanauplii (39.6%) and juveniles (24.1%). Similarly, the metacestodes of F. flamingo were also distributed among various age groups: in adults (44.4% of cysticercoids), juveniles (27.8%) and metanauplii (27.8%). These results indicate that the early developmental stages of Artemia have an important role for the circulation of certain parasite species. No cysticercoids of C. podicipina and E. avoceti were recorded in larval and juvenile brine shrimps. The selective infestation of larval brine shrimps with flamingo parasites is probably associated with the feeding behaviour of definitive hosts, which are filtering predators; in contrast, grebes and waders pick brine shrimps individually one by one. The possible underlying mechanism for selective infestation of metanauplii and adults by certain cestode species is associated with the size of parasite eggs, allowing only cestode species with small eggs to be ingested by larval brine shrimps.
KeywordsBrine Shrimp Aquatic Bird Cestode Species Cestode Parasite Rostellar Hook
We would like to thank G. Medina for the help with field work. We are grateful to Concepción Torres, Director of the Paraje Natural de las lagunas de Torrevieja y La Mata, and the park keepers, who gave all facilities to work in the lagoon and provided the waterfowl census. This work was financed by the Spanish National Plan R & D (project CGL-2005- 02306/BOS) and by the EC-funded project WETLANET to the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The first author is supported by a Ph.D. grant (FPI) from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
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