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Spatial and temporal variation in abundance of Diplostomum spp. in walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) and white suckers (Catostomus commersoni) from the St. Lawrence River

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Abstract:

Abundances of eye flukes (Diplostomum spp.) were compared between walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) and white suckers (Catostomus commersoni) collected in late summer 1997 from Lake St. Louis and Lake St. Pierre, two expansions of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada. The white sucker, a benthic consumer, was more heavily infected than the walleye, a pelagic piscivore, in both lakes. Infection levels increased significantly with host age and size. For both species, abundance of Diplostomum spp. within each age group and length class was higher in fish from Lake St. Louis than in those from Lake St. Pierre. Walleye of all ages and white suckers 7 years old from Lake St. Louis were also larger at age than those of corresponding age from Lake St. Pierre. Therefore, walleye and white suckers from Lake St. Louis are probably different populations from those in Lake St. Pierre.

The higher infection levels in Lake St. Louis are most likely due to the larger number of ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis), an important definitive host of Diplostomum spp., in colonies in close proximity to that lake; there are >75 000 pairs within 40 km of Lake St. Louis and 16 000 pairs within 40 km of Lake St. Pierre. No detrimental effects of infection with Diplostomum spp. could be detected on fish fork length, body mass, condition index, or gonadosomatic index. Walleye from shallow lentic waters in Lake St. Louis were larger and possessed heavier infections of Diplostomum spp. than those from deeper lotic waters. Walleye collected from a fixed trap near Quebec City in July 1997 were smaller but more heavily infected with Diplostomum spp. than those collected in October, which implies that different populations of fish may be present seasonally at this location. A visual index developed to measure the degree of opacity of the lens of fishes does not appear to be a reliable indicator of levels of infection with eye flukes.

Experimental infection of laboratory-raised juvenile ring-billed gulls with metacercariae from the lenses of various fish species collected in the St. Lawrence River demonstrated that metacercariae were primarily Diplostomum indistinctum (84-92%), the remainder being Diplostomum huronense, and this pattern is consistent across host species and localities.

Nous avons comparé l'abondance des douves de l'œil (Diplostomum spp.) chez le Doré jaune (Stizostedion vitreum) et le Meunier noir (Catostomus commersoni), récoltés à la fin de l'été 1997 dans le lac Saint-Louis et le lac Saint-Pierre, deux élargissements du fleuve Saint-Laurent au Québec, Canada. Dans chacun des lacs, le Meunier noir, un poisson benthivore, était plus fortement infecté que le Doré jaune, un prédateur pélagique. La gravité des infections augmentait significativement avec la taille et l'âge du poisson hôte. Chez les deaux espèces, l'abondance de Diplostomum spp. dans chaque groupe d'âge et de taille était plus élevée au lac Saint-Louis qu'au lac Saint-Pierre. Au lac Saint-Louis, chez les dorés de tous âges et les meuniers de plus de 7 ans, la taille à un âge donné était plus élevée que celles des poissons capturés au lac Saint-Pierre. Ces résultats suggèrent que les Dorés jaunes et les Meuniers noirs du Lac Saint-Louis constituent des populations distinctes de celles du lac Saint-Pierre.

Il est probable que la variation spatiale de la gravité des infections soit attribuable à la répartition des colonies du Goéland à bec cerclé (Larus delawarensis), un hôte terminal important de Diplostomum spp., alors que plus de 75 000 paires ont été dénombrées dans un rayon de 40 km autour du lac Saint-Louis contre seulement 16 000 paires dans le cas du lac Saint-Pierre. Aucun impact négatif de l'infection par la douve de l'œil sur la santé des poissons n'a pu être mis en évidence par l'examen de la taille, de la masse, du coefficient de condition ou du rapport gonado-somatique des poissons. Les dorés capturés aux stations lentiques du lac Saint-Louis avaient une taille supérieure et un plus grand nombre de Diplostomum spp. dans leurs yeux que ceux récoltés en milieu lotique. Les dorés échantillonnés en juillet à une station fixe près de la ville de Québec avaient une taille inférieure mais étaient davantage infectés que les individus capturés en juin et en octobre a

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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