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Metazoan parasites in an intermediate host population near its southern border: the common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and its trematodes in a Moroccan coastal lagoon (Merja Zerga)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2008

Mériame Gam
Université Hassan II Aïn Chock, Faculté des Sciences, Km7 Route El Jadida, Casablanca, Morocco
Hocein Bazaïri
Université Hassan II Aïn Chock, Faculté des Sciences, Km7 Route El Jadida, Casablanca, Morocco
K. Thomas Jensen
Department of Marine Ecology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Aarhus, Finlandsgade 14, DK-8200 Aarhus, Denmark
Xavier de Montaudouin*
Station Marine d'Arcachon, UMR EPOC 5805 Université Bordeaux 1–CNRS, 2 rue du Pr Jolyet, F-33120 Arcachon, France
Correspondence should be addressed to: Xavier de Montaudouin Station Marine d'ArcachonUMR EPOC 5805 Université Bordeaux 1–CNRS2 rue du Pr Jolyet F-33120 Arcachon, France email:


The metazoan parasite community of Cerastoderma edule was studied in the southern geographical range of the host (the coastal lagoon Merja Zerga, Morocco). A total of 11 metazoan species was found in cockles. Nine of these were trematodes using cockles as either first intermediate host (three species) or second intermediate host (six species). In addition, two other endo-metazoan species (Pinnotheres pisum and Paravortex cardii) were recorded from cockles in the studied lagoon. All the observed metazoans in cockles from Merja Zerga have previously been recorded at sites north of Africa.

Up to 10% of the cockles in the studied size-groups were first intermediate hosts to castrating parasites (Gymnophallus choledochus, Labratrema minimus and Monorchis parvus). Among trematodes having metacercariae in cockles (second intermediate host) Meiogymnophallus minutus was the most widespread as it was observed in all cockles from all the examined habitats in the lagoon and it occurred in record high intensities. Different sub-communities of the trematode fauna using cockles as second intermediate host could be identified (subtidal vs intertidal associations).

The richness and species composition of the macroparasite community in cockles from Morocco are discussed in relation to patterns seen in cockles from other sites along their geographical range. Migratory fish and waterbirds (final hosts) are generally responsible for the large scale spread (latitudinal spread) of trematodes. However, the distributional patterns of involved intermediate hosts in the life-cycles of the different trematode species in cockles are determining the richness and species composition patterns seen in cockles at shallow water sites along the east Atlantic shoreline.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2008

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