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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 50:181-188 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao050181

Spatial and temporal variation in Anguillicola crassus counts: results of a 4 year survey of eels in Mediterranean lagoons

F. Lefebvre, P. Contournet, F. Priour, O. Soulas, A. J. Crivelli*

Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: We present the results of a survey of anguillicolosis in the Rhône River delta. From January 1997 to December 2000, a total of 13319 eels (Anguilla anguilla from elver to silver phase) were examined, in which we found 22227 swimbladder nematodes (Anguillicola crassus adults and pre-adults). A generalised linear model (GLM) framework was used to explore the relative contribution of various factors to the occurrence, intensity and abundance of the parasite. We reveal a major influence of the month of sampling, and we document the existence of a seasonal pattern with regular peaks in early summer and late winter. In contrast, the year of sampling is of secondary importance, and no particular trend in the development of the infection can be detected. More than a decade after the first record of A. crassus in the Rhône River delta, anguillicolosis has thus attained a constant infection rate of nearly 50%, with a mean number of 3 or 4 macroscopic lumen worms per infected eel. The eel length strongly influences the intensity and the abundance of the nematode, but has little if any effect on the probability of being infected. There exists a linear relationship between eel size and the number of parasites, but not between eel size and prevalence. We observe a decrease in the proportion of infected individuals among elver eels. We discuss this result in relation to the possible mortality of heavily infected individuals and/or a change in the eels¹ alimentary diet.

KEY WORDS: Epidemiology · Anguillicolosis · Anguilla anguilla · Anguillicola crassus · Host-parasite system · Parasite distribution

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