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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03495

    Possible climatically-induced environmental impacts on parasite-infection rates of northern shrimp Pandalus borealis eggs in the Gulf of Maine

    Hsiao-Yun Chang*, Rachael Klose, Yong Chen

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The Gulf of Maine northern shrimp Pandalus borealis population once supported a significant commercial winter fishery for the New England states. However, the fishery has been on moratorium since 2014 due to consecutive recruitment failures. The issue of parasite infected eggs, the so-called “white eggs”, has long been identified for the Gulf of Maine northern shrimp, which makes shrimp eggs nonviable and subsequently hampers the recruitment potential. Furthermore, the proportion of infected females was observed to increase with water temperature. As Gulf of Maine temperatures have been increasing for decades, it is important to re-visit issues related to white eggs to evaluate possible impacts of climatically induced environmental changes on the white egg infection rates. This study uses biological samples collected by Northeast Fisheries Science Center in 2012-2016 to evaluate the possibility of female shrimp infected (Pinf) and the proportion of white eggs in an infected female shrimp (Pwe). Although the Pinf was high with an average of 73.81% over the Gulf of Maine, Pwe was mostly lower than 5%. The variation in both Pinf and Pwe examined in this study were not well explained by environmental factors nor female body size. However, the average infection rates of both Pinf and Pwe observed in this study were higher than those observed in the 1960s when the bottom temperatures were cooler. The results can be used to account for egg mortality and provide information on potential impacts of possible climatically-inducted variability on shrimp population dynamics.