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Parasites of endemic cyprinids from the Balkan Peninsula - host specificity, endemism and diversity of metazoan parasite communities

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Year of publication 2017
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description The Mediterranean area is distinguished from most of the other parts of Europe in occurrence of many unique endemic fish species, especially cyprinids. However, studies focussing on the investigation of parasitofauna of endemic cyprinids are rather exceptional and were performed just in a few localities of Mediterranean area. In the present study, we analysed the metazoan parasite communities of endemic cyprinid species in a large part of the Balkan Peninsula. A total of 577 specimens belonging to 57 cyprinid species were sampled during 2014 – 2015 in selected localities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece and examined for the presence of metazoan parasites. This study revealed over 100 species of metazoan parasites. We analysed the infection level of parasites and the diversity of parasite communities. In addition, we focussed on host specificity and endemism of parasites. The highest species diversity was reported within Monogenea – a total of 103 species were recorded, from which 36 are likely new for science. Number of parasite species per endemic cyprinid species ranged from 1 to 16. Diversity of parasite communities was analysed at the levels of metacommunity and infracommunity using indices of diversity. Using multidimensional scaling on the similarity of parasite communities expressed by the indices of similarity, the parasite communities of cyprinids from Greece and Albania were similar, whilst parasite communities of cyprinids from Bosnia and Herzegovina were different from both of them. The similarity of parasite metacommunities of congeneric hosts belonging to genera Squalius and Barbus were found. While the majority of species of Monogenea found in endemic cyprinids are characterised by a high degree of host specificity and include taxa endemic to the Mediterranean area, some monogeneans reported in endemic cyprinid species are commonly distributed in Europe. The remaining ectoparasites and all endoparasites are common parasites of cyprinids widely distributed in Palaearctic Region. We concluded that species diversity of parasites and their distribution in endemic cyprinid hosts are influenced by cyprinid biogeographical history (especially concerning the monogeneans), range of distribution of fish, coevolution processes and other abiotic and biotic factors. The study of parasite diversity in endemic cyprinids of the Balkan Peninsula (especially parasites exhibiting high host specificity) may represent a suitable model to investigate the potential historical contacts among cyprinid hosts as the evolution of these parasite species.
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