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Parasites as biological tags for stock discrimination in marine fish from South American Atlantic waters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2007

Juan T. Timi
Affiliation:
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Parasitología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. Funes 3350, (7600) Mar del Plata, Argentina
Corresponding
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Abstract

The use of parasites as biological tags in population studies of marine fish in the south-western Atlantic has proved to be a successful tool for discriminating stocks for all species to which it has been applied, namely: Scomber japonicus, Engraulis anchoita, Merluccius hubbsi and Cynoscion guatucupa, the latter studied on a broader geographic scale, including samples from Uruguayan and Brazilian waters. The distribution patterns of marine parasites are determined mainly by temperature–salinity profiles and by their association with specific masses of water. Analyses of distribution patterns of some parasite species in relation to gradients in environmental (oceanographic) conditions showed that latitudinal gradients in parasite distribution are common in the study area, and are probably directly related to water temperature. Indeed, temperature, which is a good predictor of latitudinal gradients of richness and diversity of species, shows a latitudinal pattern in south-western Atlantic coasts, decreasing southwards, due to the influence of subtropical and subantarctic marine currents flowing along the edge of the continental slope. This pattern also determines the distribution of zooplankton, with a characteristic specific composition in different water masses. The gradient in the distribution of parasites determines differential compositions of their communities at different latitudes, which makes possible the identification of different stocks of their fish hosts. Other features of the host–parasite systems contributing to the success of the parasitological method are: (1) parasites identified as good biological tags (i.e. anisakids) are widely distributed in the local fauna; (2) many of these species show low specificity and use paratenic hosts; and (3) the structure of parasite communities are, to a certain degree, predictable in time and space.

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ICOPAXI Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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References

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