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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Survey of eastern Caribbean reef-associated fishes shows a high biodiversity of unique blood parasites. Image: Courtney A. Cook, Edward C. Netherlands

Cook CA, Sikkel PC, Renoux LP, Smit NJ


Blood parasite biodiversity of reef-associated fishes of the eastern Caribbean



Despite parasites being the most diverse component of the marine environment, they are vastly understudied in marine ecology. In an ambitious survey of marine parasitic micro-organisms, Cook and co-workers studied blood samples of 1298 reef fishes from 6 eastern Caribbean islands. In 14 of the 103 species investigated, they discovered at least 8 different types of blood parasites never before reported from this region or elsewhere. Their results further implicated the gnathiid isopod Gnathia marleyi as a potential vector of at least one of these blood-borne micro-organisms. This study reveals the high biodiversity of haemoparasites infecting eastern Caribbean reef fishes, and underscores the need for additional research throughout the Caribbean and in other tropical reef systems.


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