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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 642:83-101 (2020)  -  DOI:

Host, seasonal and habitat influences on incidence of Lernaeenicus radiatus (Copepoda: Pennellidae) in the mid-Atlantic Bight

Jan Lovy1,*, Nicole L. Lewis1, Sarah E. Friend1, Kenneth W. Able2, Margaret J. Shaw2, Gregory S. Hinks3, Peter J. Clarke3

1Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Oxford, NJ 07863, USA
2Marine Field Station, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, Tuckerton, NJ 08087, USA
3Bureau of Marine Fisheries, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Nacote Creek, NJ 08205, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Lernaeenicus radiatus is a pennellid copepod with a 2-host life cycle that exhibits high host-specificity to their first host, black sea bass Centropristis striata. This parasite was prevalent in the gills of black sea bass juveniles and adults along the coast of New Jersey, USA, April to December 2019. Parasite incidence was high in the summer and fall in near-shore areas and dropped significantly in fish from deep waters further off-shore in December. Heavy infections of L. radiatus occurred in gills of adult black sea bass inhabiting reef-associated structures, in which parasite incidence rate was 2-3.7 times higher than in non-structure habitat. Less host-specificity occurred in second hosts which support female metamorphosis. In total, 7 fish species were confirmed as second hosts, with the most common being Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus and bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli. Incidence of L. radiatus depends on host abundance and habitats that support interactions of the preferred fish hosts, which may explain the heavy infections in reef habitats. The L. radiatus anchor process in metamorphosed females was highly polymorphic, depending on tissue tropism. Parasite length varied considerably, with neck and trunk measurements of L. radiatus from adult menhaden being 2-4 times larger than those from smaller host species. Mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI) sequences demonstrated all parasites to be L. radiatus, with sequence divergence limited to 0.3%. These findings show that morphology of the metamorphosed females has poor taxonomic value, and polymorphisms instead are related to attachment site and host characteristics.

KEY WORDS: Lernaeenicus radiatus · Pennellidae · Reef habitat · Black sea bass · Atlantic menhaden

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Cite this article as: Lovy J, Lewis NL, Friend SE, Able KW, Shaw MJ, Hinks GS, Clarke PJ (2020) Host, seasonal and habitat influences on incidence of Lernaeenicus radiatus (Copepoda: Pennellidae) in the mid-Atlantic Bight. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 642:83-101.

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