Systematic Parasitology

, 66:81 | Cite as

Parasite biodiversity in a coral reef fish: twelve species of monogeneans on the gills of the grouper Epinephelus maculatus (Perciformes: Serranidae) off New Caledonia, with a description of eight new species of Pseudorhabdosynochus (Monogenea: Diplectanidae)

  • Jean-Lou Justine
Original Paper


Coral reefs are known for their high level of biodiversity, but parasite biodiversity has not been evaluated. Cases such as Epinephelus maculatus, described here, show that the numerical estimation of parasite biodiversity in coral reefs could reach more than ten times the number of fish species; consequently, the extinction of certain fish species from endangered coral reefs would result in the co-extinction of at least ten times the number of parasite species. E. maculatus is a grouper of intermediate size (1–2 kg) and common in the coral reefs of New Caledonia, South Pacific. Based on the examination of more than 800 monogenean specimens, 12 species of monogeneans (ten diplectanids and two ancyrocephalids) were differentiated on the gills. These species of diplectanids have not been found in other epinephelines in the same area and thus are considered as specific to this host. In addition, three species of copepods, and isopod larvae, are present on the gills; E. maculatus thus has a total of 16 species of gill ectoparasites, which can be found together on a single individual fish. Diplectanids include Laticola dae Journo & Justine, 2006, which is the most abundant species representing about 50% of the specimens, and nine species which are rare, each representing 2–7% of the specimens: Diplectanum uitoe n. sp. and eight species of Pseudorhabdosynochus Yamaguti, 1958. D. uitoe, provisionally attributed to Diplectanum Diesing, 1858, is characterised by a small conical penis with internal walls. Pseudorhabdosynochus auitoe n. sp., P. buitoe n. sp., P. cuitoe n. sp., P. duitoe n. sp., P. euitoe n. sp. and P. fuitoe n. sp. are differentiated on the basis of the morphology of the sclerotised vagina, but are very similar in other characteristics; P. guitoe n. sp. is characterised by a quadriloculate organ with very thick walls and a very small sclerotised vagina; and P. huitoe n. sp. is characterised by its sclerotised vagina and by very long ventral and dorsal haptoral bars. Two rare (2–3% of specimens) ancyrocephalids, Haliotrema epinepheli Young, 1969 and Haliotrema sp., are briefly described in relation to the male copulatory organs and haptoral bars; H. epinepheli is apparently a generalist species found in various epinephelines and other fish species. A table of the 50 species of diplectanids (Pseudorhabdosynochus, Laticola Yang et al., 2006, Echinoplectanum Justine & Euzet, 2006 and Diplectanum) from serranids is provided.


Outer Length Marginal Hooklet Secondary Chamber Primary Chamber Sclerotised Vagina 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Les récifs coralliens sont connus pour leur haut niveau de biodiversité, mais la biodiversité parasitaire n’a pas été évaluée ; des cas tels que ceux de Epinephelus maculatus, décrit ici, montrent que l’estimation numérique de la biodiversité parasitaire dans les récifs coralliens pourrait dépasser dix fois le nombre d’espèces de poissons ; en conséquence, l’extinction de certaines espèces de poissons des récifs coralliens, qui sont menacés, résulterait en l’extinction de dix fois plus d’espèces de parasites. E. maculatus est un mérou de taille intermédiaire (1–2 kg) commun dans les récifs coralliens de Nouvelle-Calédonie, Pacifique Sud. Sur la base de l’examen de plus de 800 spécimens de monogènes, 12 espèces (dix Diplectanidae et deux Ancyrocephalidae) ont été distinguées sur les branchies. Ces espèces de Diplectanidae n’ont pas été trouvées chez les autres Epinephelinae de la même zone et sont donc considérées comme spécifiques de cet hôte. En supplément, trois espèces de copépodes et des larves d’isopodes sont présentes sur les branchies : E. maculatus a donc un total de 16 espèces d’ectoparasites sur les branchies, qui peuvent être trouvées ensemble sur un seul individu poisson. Les Diplectanidae incluent Laticola dae Journo & Justine, 2006, qui est l’espèce la plus abondante avec approximativement 50% des spécimens, et neuf espèces qui sont rares, chacune représentant 2–7% des spécimens : Diplectanum uitoe n. sp. et huit espèces de Pseudorhabdosynochus Yamaguti, 1958. D. uitoe, attribué provisoirement au genre Diplectanum Diesing, 1858, est caractérisé par un petit pénis conique avec des parois internes. Pseudorhabdosynochus auitoe n. sp., P. buitoe n. sp., P. cuitoe n. sp., P. duitoe n. sp., P. euitoe n. sp., et P. fuitoe n. sp. sont distingués sur la base de la morphologie du vagin sclérifié, mais sont très similaires pour d’autres caractéristiques; P. guitoe n. sp. est caractérisé par un organe tétraloculé à parois très épaisses et un vagin sclérifié très petit; P. huitoe n. sp. est caractérisé par son vagin sclérifié et par des barres du hapteur, ventrale et dorsales, très longues. Les deux rares Ancyrocephalidae (2–3% des spécimens), Haliotrema epinepheli Young, 1969 et Haliotrema sp., sont brièvement décrits pour les organes copulateurs mâles et les barres du hapteur; H. epinepheli est apparemment une espèce généraliste trouvée chez plusieurs Epinephelinae et d’autres poissons. Un tableau des 50 espèces de Diplectanidae (Pseudorhabdosynochus, Laticola Yang et al., 2006, Echinoplectanum Justine & Euzet, 2006, Diplectanum) des Serranidae est proposé.



With fishing operations lasting more than two years, it is natural that many people were involved with and helped this project. Louis Euzet (Sète, France) helped with an early study of some of the species. Julie Mounier, volunteer technician, and Charles Beaufrère, Audrey Guérin, Anaïs Guillou, Amandine Marie, Chloé Journo, Violette Justine, Eric Bureau, Maya Robert and Damien Hinsinger, all students, participated in the fishing operations and parasitological survey. Chloé Journo was involved in the initial processing of certain specimens. Sam Tereua, Miguel Clarque and Napoléon Colombani, captains of the RV ‚Coris’ provided safe navigation. Angelo di Matteo (IRD) provided technical help. David Gibson (NHM, London) and Jimmy Cassone (MNHN, Paris) helped in retrieving and providing literature. Delane Kritsky, Tingbao Yang and David Gibson provided manuscripts in press. Frank Moravec (Helminthological Institute, České Budejovice, Czech Republic), Ian Whittington (SAM, Adelaide, Australia), Jean-Paul Trilles (University of Montpellier, France), Geoffrey Boxshall and Rod Bray (NHM, London, England) agreed to study, respectively, nematodes, capsalids, isopods, copepods and digeneans. Ms Lua Hui Kheng (Raffles Museum, Singapore) arranged the loan of D. grouperi paratypes. Bijian Zeng and Tingbao Yang (Guangzhou, China) generously donated specimens to the MNHN collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Équipe Biogéographie Marine Tropicale, Unité Systématique, Adaptation, Évolution (CNRS, UPMC, MNHN, IRD)Institut de Recherche pour le DéveloppementNouméa CedexNouvelle Calédonie

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