The Parasito-Fauna of Invasive and Native Fish in The Eastern Mediterranean Affected by Climate Change

Student: Yaelle Klopman
Advisors:  Prof. Menachem Goren and Prof. Ariel Diamant

One of the most meaningful factors to impact the eastern Mediterranean over the last few decades is the massive invasion of tropical Red Sea faunal elements via the Suez Canal. Despite numerous research efforts of this extraordinary phenomenon, we still have relatively little knowledge on the role parasites have in this arena. The study examined the incidence and distribution of the metazoan parasites of 20 species of invasive and native fish species along the Israeli and Turkish Mediterranean coasts.
 
The most prevalent parasite groups were Nematoda (25.5%) and Cestoda (18.7%); Monogenea (15.3%) and Digenea (11.9%) were less common, while the least abundant were Copepoda, Isopoda and Acanthocephala (7.3%, 4.5% and 0.5%, respectively). The prevalence of infection of all taxa was very similar amongst native and invasive species (65.6% and 61.3%, respectively). Somewhat unexpectedly, no statistically significant difference was found between the infection prevalence with digeneans of invasive (13.1%) and native (8.1%) host species. Overall infection prevalence values were higher in samples taken from the Israeli coast as compared to those taken in Turkey (67.4% vs. 52.7%, respectively). This difference may be a result of the warmer waters prevailing on the Israeli coast, which may enhance survival of larval stages and promote parasite development rates. this study also discovered a new microsporidian, newly erected genus, Dasyatispora and described as Dasyatispora levantina Gen. et sp. nov. 
 
The presently available knowledge suggests that while there may be some "release" or reduction of metazoan parasites in the invasive fish species, their success in their newly adopted Mediterranean habitat, is not necessarily linked with the parasitological aspects of the invasion process.
 
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