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ESR 35:47-58 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00863

Parasite component community of smalltooth sawfish off Florida: diversity, conservation concerns, and research applications

Micah D. Bakenhaster1,*, Stephen A. Bullard2, Stephen S. Curran3, Delane C. Kritsky4, Erin H. Leone5, Lauren K. Partridge1, Carlos F. Ruiz2, Rachel M. Scharer6, Gregg R. Poulakis6

1Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
2Aquatic Parasitology Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, College of Agriculture, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA
3Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Division of Coastal Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 39564, USA
4Health Education Program, School of Health Professions, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho 83209, USA
5Center for Biostatistics and Modeling, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Gainesville, Florida 32601, USA
6Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Charlotte Harbor Field Laboratory, Port Charlotte, Florida 33954, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Compared with that of other charismatic elasmobranchs, the component community of metazoan parasites infecting endangered smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata is exceedingly poorly characterized: adults of Dermophthirioides pristidis and Neoheterocotyle inpristi (ectoparasitic flatworms of skin and gill, respectively) were the only confirmed parasites prior to the description, based on specimens reported herein, of Mycteronastes caalusi. Our opportune and directed parasitological examinations of 290 smalltooth sawfish (277 live inspections; 13 necropsies; 671 to 2640 mm stretch total length) in south Florida coastal waters revealed at least 8 species of Platyhelminthes, 9 of Arthropoda, 4 of Annelida, and 1 of Nematoda. This collection includes representatives of an undescribed species of Aporocotylidae (Digenea) and myriad new host records, considerably updating and advancing our understanding of smalltooth sawfish symbionts. We also confirm that D. pristidis and N. inpristi are extant and propose D. pristidis as a reliable biological tag. Some of these parasites are evidently highly host-specific and so vulnerable to extinction.


KEY WORDS: Pristis pectinata · Dermophthirioides pristidis · Coextinction · Parasite conservation · Biological indicators · Biological tags


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Cite this article as: Bakenhaster MD, Bullard SA, Curran SS, Kritsky DC and others (2018) Parasite component community of smalltooth sawfish off Florida: diversity, conservation concerns, and research applications. Endang Species Res 35:47-58. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00863

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