The tongue-replacing isopod Cymothoa borbonica reduces the growth of largespot pompano Trachinotus botla
Cymothoa borbonica prevalence in the buccal cavity of Trachinotus botla was high, with 45 % of all fish sampled being infected. Smaller fish were more susceptible to infection with no parasites found in fish over 400 mm FL. The detrimental effects of parasite infection on their hosts include basihyal (the bone commonly known as the “tongue”) damage, a loss in buccal cavity volume as a result of female parasite attachment, and a severe impact on host growth. By combining short-term dietary analysis and medium-term stable isotope analysis, there was little evidence to suggest a modification in either the diet or feeding habits of infected fish where infected and uninfected fish occupied the same trophic niche. Inhibited growth in infected fish is hypothesized to be from respiratory distress from long-term oxygen deficiency through buccal obstruction.
KeywordsParasite Infection Stable Isotope Analysis Fork Length Parasite Prevalence Buccal Cavity
This study was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa’s African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme and Rhodes University. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is thanked for allowing access for this study. Matt Parkinson and Reece Wartenberg are thanked for assisting with the research. Bruce Mann is thanked for his advice and guidance in data collection. All anglers are thanked for assisting with the collection of fish for research.
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