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Experimental infection of the endangered bonytail chub (Gila elegans) with the Asian fish tapeworm (Bothriocephalus acheilognathi): impacts on survival, growth, and condition

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Bothriocephalus acheilognathi Yamaguti, 1934, a tapeworm known to be pathogenic to some fish species, has become established in the endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha Miller, 1964) in Grand Canyon, USA, following the tapeworm’s introduction into the Colorado River system. The potential impact of this tapeworm on humpback chub was studied by exposing the closely related bonytail chub (Gila elegans Baird and Girard, 1853) to the parasite under a range of conditions that included potential stressors of humpback chub in their natal waters, such as abrupt temperature change and a limited food base. Survival of infected fish under low food rations was considerably lower than that of control fish, and mortality of infected fish began 20days earlier. Growth of infected fish was significantly reduced, and negative changes in health condition indices were found. No significant negative impacts were revealed from the synergistic effects between temperature shock and infection. Bothriocephalus acheilognathi does present a potential threat to humpback chub in Grand Canyon and should be considered, along with conventional concerns involving altered flow regimes and predation, when management decisions are made concerning conservation of this endangered species.

Bothriocephalus acheilognathi Yamaguti, 1934, un ver plat connu comme pathogène pour certaines espèces de poissons, s’est associé au «méné bossu» (Gila cypha Miller, 1964), une espèce menacée du Grand Canyon, É.-U., après l’introduction du ver dans le réseau hydrographique du Colorado. Nous avons étudié l’impact potentiel de ce ver plat sur le méné bossu en exposant l’espèce proche Gila elegans Baird et Girard, 1853 au parasite sous une gamme de conditions qui incluent les facteurs potentiels de stress des ménés bossus dans leurs cours d’eau d’origine, tels que les changements abrupts de température et des ressources alimentaires limitées. La survie des poissons infectés dans des conditions de nourriture limitée est substantiellement réduite par comparaison aux poissons témoins et la mortalité des poissons infectés débute 20 jours plus tôt. La croissance des poissons infectés est significativement réduite et il y a des changements négatifs dans les indicateurs des conditions de santé. Il n’y a pas d’impact négatif significatif apparent des effets de synergie du choc thermique et de l’infection. Bothriocephalus acheilognathi est donc une menace potentielle pour le méné bossu dans le Grand Canyon et il devra être pris en considération, au même titre que les préoccupations habituelles au sujet de la modification du régime des eaux et de la prédation, lorsque des décisions seront prises au sujet de la conservation de cette espèce menacée.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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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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