ABSTRACT

In north-central Texas streams, seasonal changes in ambient temperature and rainfall result in dynamic variation in microhabitat structure, affecting the distribution and abundance of hosts. Since the complex life cycles of parasites require the presence and interaction of multiple hosts, the seasonal variations in microhabitats could influence parasite component communities within these ecosystems. Gambusia affinis (western mosquitofish) serves as a host for a variety of larval and adult parasites. Factors that affect helminth component communities in populations of mosquitofish from the Paluxy River were investigated in this study. Gambusia affinis individuals were collected from 3 sites monthly from June 2015 through August 2016. All helminth parasites were collected during necropsy and subsequently identified. From 495 mosquitofish, 5,283 helminths were collected. Component community diversity varied among collection sites and collection dates and was positively influenced by river flow. These results indicate that helminth assemblages infecting mosquitofish in the Paluxy River vary through time and space, as well as in response to environmental variation (i.e., changes in water flow).

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