Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 109–118 | Cite as

Gill parasites of fish and their relation to host and environmental factors in two estuaries in northeastern Brazil

  • Julia M. FalkenbergEmail author
  • Jéssica Emília S. A. Golzio
  • André Pessanha
  • Joana Patrício
  • Ana L. Vendel
  • Ana C. F. Lacerda


Fish parasites can be good indicators of the quality of water bodies, and their presence or absence can be interpreted as a sign of habitat changes, helping us to diagnose environmental problems. This study was conducted in two estuaries located in the Paraíba state, northeastern Brazil: Mamanguape, an environmental protection area, and Paraíba do Norte, a river with riverside communities along its length. The objective of the study was to determine whether host and abiotic characteristics predict the richness of fish gill parasites and/or the abundance of the most abundant and prevalent parasite species, the copepod Acusicola brasiliensis, testing the species as a possible bioindicator. The fish host species were Anchoa januaria, Atherinella brasiliensis, Mugil curema, and Rhinosardinia bahiensis. Generalized linear models were constructed to test the influence of predictor variables on parasite richness and A. brasiliensis abundance. The predictor variables used in the models were the host relative condition factor (Kn), host length, collection season (rainy or dry), estuary, host species, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll a. Both parasite species richness and A. brasiliensis mean abundance showed a significant relation to water quality parameters, suggesting their possible use as environmental quality indicators.


Ichthyoparasitology Ectoparasites Bioindicators Water pollution 



The authors thank the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) for financing the PVE/CAPES project (Process 173/2012) “What lessons can be learned from ecological functioning in the estuarine systems of the state of Paraiba? An analysis of the effect of natural and anthropogenic disturbances” and the Science without Borders Program (Special Visiting Researcher). CAPES also funded J. Golzio through a master’s scholarship. The National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) funded J. Falkenberg and A. Coutinho through undergraduate scholarships (Scientific Initiation). The authors thank Saulo Vital for the map.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Hydrology, Microbiology and ParasitologyFederal University of ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Ecology and Environmental MonitoringFederal University of ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil
  3. 3.Graduate Program in Zoology (Biological Sciences)Federal University of ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil
  4. 4.Graduate Program in Ecology and ConservationState University of ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil
  5. 5.Faculty of Sciences and Technology, MARE-Marine and Environmental Sciences CentreUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  6. 6.State University of Paraíba - Campus VJoão PessoaBrazil
  7. 7.Departamento de Sistemática e EcologiaUniversidade Federal da ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil

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