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Helminth communities of four commercially important fish species from Chetumal Bay, Mexico

  • M.L. Aguirre-Macedo (a1), V.M. Vidal-Martínez (a1), D. González-Solís (a2) and P.I. Caballero (a3)


The relative importance of ecology and evolution as factors determining species richness and composition of the helminth communities of fish is a matter of current debate. Theoretical studies use host–parasite lists, but these do not include studies on a temporal or spatial scale. Local environmental conditions and host biological characteristics are shown to influence helminth species richness and composition in four fish species (Eugerres plumieri, Hexanematichthys assimilis, Oligoplites saurus, and Scomberomorus maculatus) in Chetumal Bay, Mexico. With the exception of H. assimilis, the helminth communities had not been previously studied and possible associations between environmental and host biological characteristics as factors determining helminth species richness and composition using redundancy analysis (RDA) are described. Thirty-four helminth species are identified, with the highest number of species (19 total (mean = 6.3 ± 2.1)) and the lowest (9 (4.0 ± 1.0)) occurring in H. assimilis and S. maculatus, respectively. The larval nematodes Contracaecum sp. and Pseudoterranova sp. were not only the helminth species shared by all four host species but also were the most prevalent and abundant. Statistical associations between helminth community parameters and local ecological variables such as host habitat use, feeding habits, mobility, and time of residence in coastal lagoons are identified. Phylogeny is important because it clearly separates all four host species by their specialist parasites, although specific habitat and feeding habits also significantly influence the differentiation between the four fish species.


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