Diet assimilation trends and host-parasite relationships in two species of sunfish (Lepomis) revealed by stable isotope analyses of multiple tissues
White grub flukes, Posthodiplostomum minimum centrarchi (Trematoda), and hookworms Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli (Acanthocephala) are common internal parasites for many North American freshwater fishes. P. minimum are found as cysts in internal organ tissues, while P. bulbocolli are found as sexually mature adults in gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen (δ13C and δ15N) are commonly used to infer food web relationships in freshwater lakes. To see if δ13C and δ15N could be used to analyze parasite-host relationships, we analyzed the stable isotopes of the two species of parasites and various tissue types of their fish hosts (bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish) from different host tissues. The samples δ13C and δ15N demonstrated that P. minimum and P. bulbocolli fed on the fish hosts livers and intestines, respectively. It is also corroborated by correlations in C/N ratios of those fish parasites and their fish host tissues. This study highlights the importance of identifying the specific host tissues parasites feed on in stable isotope analysis.
KeywordsPosthodiplostomum minimum Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli Host tissues δ13C and δ15N Food webs
This study was funded with a NSERC Discovery Research grant to Linda Campbell. Field and laboratory assistance were provided by Caleb Hassler, Rhiannon Davies, Ryan Germain, Carolyn Churchland, Kira Delmore, Nikisha Grant, Jay Vanderhorst, Kerry Klassen, Frank Phelan, and Floyd Conner.
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