Understanding growth relationships of African cymothoid fish parasitic isopods using specimens from museum and field collections
Welicky, Rachel L.
Hadfield, Kerry A.
Smit, Nico J.
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Cymothoid isopods are a diverse group of ectoparasites of fish species, and are particularly conspicuous as they are large and attach to the body surface, mouth, and gill chamber of fish hosts. These parasites transition from juvenile to male to female, and how their size changes with ontogeny and correlates with host size is not well understood. To better understand these relationships, data from field and museum collected samples of South Africa were combined to test for the associations between host and parasite length for three mouth and one gill chamber-infesting genera (Ceratothoa, Cinusa, Cymothoa, and Mothocya respectively). Generally, the number of parasites collected from 90 h of museum surveying was similar to that of seven, one-week long field collections. For two of the three mouth-infesting parasites, parasite and host size were significantly and positively correlated for males and females, but not juveniles. For gill chamber-infesting parasites, female and male parasite sizes were weakly and not significantly correlated with host size. These results provide the first morphometric data and growth relationship data for African cymothoid species and their fish hosts, and demonstrate the value and efficiency of using museum collections in ecological research