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A comparison of freshwater and marine/estuarine strains of Pomphorhynchus laevis occurring sympatrically in flounder, Platichthys flesus, in the tidal Thames

  • S. Guillen-Hernandez (a1) and P.J. Whitfield (a1)


Collections of flounder, Platichthys flesus, at two sites on the tidal River Thames in 1994 and 1995 have, for the first time, revealed the sympatric occurrence of the freshwater and marine/estuarine strains of the acanthocephalan parasite Pomphorhynchus laevis. This natural co-occurrence of the strains has been employed to compare infection levels and a range of parasite attributes of the two strains under conditions of sympatry. At both Lots Road (Chelsea) and Tilbury the marine/estuarine strain was present at far higher infection levels than the freshwater form. In a detailed comparison of worms from Tilbury flounder, a range of differences was revealed between the two strains. In single strain infections in individual fish, freshwater and marine/estuarine worms had distinct but overlapping gut microhabitat use patterns, with the former having a central intestinal bias and the latter a bias for the posterior region of the gut. In mixed strain infections, niche contraction occurred so that no overlap occurred. Freshwater worms were larger and had more eggs, more ovarian balls, and a higher percentage of fully developed eggs than the marine/estuarine worms. These differences are thought to reflect intrinsic, presumably genetically determined, differences between the two strains as they occurred in the same fish host species collected at the same place and time. Apparent differences in strain reproductive potential in flounder in the tidal Thames are discussed in the context of previous studies and the intermediate host segment of the parasite life cycle.


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*Author for correspondence Fax: 020 7848 4195 E-mail:
†Present address: Departmento de Ecologia, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. C.P. 97000, A.P. 4–116, Itzimna, Yucatan, Mexico


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A comparison of freshwater and marine/estuarine strains of Pomphorhynchus laevis occurring sympatrically in flounder, Platichthys flesus, in the tidal Thames

  • S. Guillen-Hernandez (a1) and P.J. Whitfield (a1)


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