Comparison of Endohelminth Parasites in Alligator Gar (Atractosteus Spatula) and Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus Oculatus) from Sabine Lake



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Alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) and spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) are predatory, primitive fishes with a long evolutionary history. Both species are native to North America and are distributed through the gulf coast. The parasites of these 2 species are understudied throughout their range, but particularly in coastal Texas. This study examined the endohelminth parasite communities of these 2 species in a unique study habitat (Sabine Lake Estuary). A helminth survey of 40 alligator gar and 40 spotted gar was conducted on specimens captured from Sabine Lake in the spring and summer of 2018. Parasitic intensity and Shannon-Wiener diversity were calculated for each fish individually and then regressed against host size and habitat salinity to determine if these variables influence parasite community. The communities of the 2 species were then compared using Shannon-Wiener diversity, Percent Similarity index, and a mixed effect model. From these samples, 13 parasite species were identified (5 trematodes, 4 nematodes, 2 cestodes, and 2 acanthocephalans), 10 of which were shared by both host species. Host size and salinity were not found to be significant predictors of parasite community diversity. This study is significant as a survey of endohelminths from Sabine Lake that documents new host and localities for several parasite species as well as highlighting the diversity of parasite species found in gar captured from a saline environment.



Biology, Parasitology