Composition and structure of the parasite faunas of cod, Gadus morhua L. (Teleostei: Gadidae), in the North East Atlantic

Diana Perdiguero-Alonso, Francisco E. Montero, Juan Antonio Raga, Aneta Kostadinova

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Although numerous studies on parasites of the Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L. have been conducted in the North Atlantic, comparative analyses on local cod parasite faunas are virtually lacking. The present study is based on examination of large samples of cod from six geographical areas of the North East Atlantic which yielded abundant baseline data on parasite distribution and abundance. Materials and Methods. A total of 826 fish was sampled in the Baltic, Celtic, Irish and North seas, Icelandic waters and Trondheimsfjord (Norway) in 2002 (spring and autumn) and 2003 (spring). The gills and internal organs (oesophagus, stomach, intestine, pyloric caeca, liver, heart, spleen, gall bladder and gonads) were examined for macroparasites following a standardised protocol. The taxonomic consistency of the identification was ensured thorough the entire study. Results. We discuss some problems in parasite identification, outline the composition of the parasite faunas in cod in the six North East Atlantic regions, provide novel data on parasite prevalence and abundance and a comparative assessment of the structure of the regional parasite faunas with respect to the higher-level taxonomic groupings, host specificity and zoogeographical distribution of the parasites. Altogether 57 different parasite forms were found including seven new host records (Diclidophora merlangi, Rhipidocotyle sp., Fellodistomum sp., Steringotrema sp., Cucullanus sp., Spinitectus sp., and Chondracanthus ornatus). The predominant groups of cod parasites were trematodes (19 species) and nematodes (13 species) including larval anisakids which comprised 58.2% of the total number of individuals. Conclusion. Our study reveals relatively rich regional parasite faunas in cod from the North East Atlantic which are dominated by generalist parasites with Arcto-Boreal distribution. Further, it provides more detailed data on the distribution in the North East Atlantic of the majority of cod parasites which may serve as baselines for future studies on the effect of climate change. Based on the faunal comparisons, predictions can be made in relation to the structure and diversity of the parasite communities in the North East Atlantic regions studied.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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