The helminth parasites present in 412 lesser sandeels (Ammodytes tobianus) taken from June 1996 to May 1997 from the Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland were examined. Ten helminth parasite species were recorded, and more than 92% of the sandeels were infected with at least 1 helminth species. Seven of the species were digeneans, including Brachyphallus crenatus, Hemiurus communis, Derogenes varicus, Lecithaster gibbosus, Opechona bacillaris, Cryptocotyle lingua, and Galactosomum lacteum; 2 nematodes, including Hysterothylacium sp. and Contracaecum sp.; and 1 cestode, Scolex pleuronectis. Three of the 7 digenean species were either larvae or immature. Only 2 species, the digeneans G. lacteum and H. communis, had prevalences greater than 50%. The dominant species was G. lacteum, accounting for 67% of all parasites present. The relationship between spawned groups, host length, and season versus the abundance, prevalence, species richness, and the total number of parasites in the infracommunities was investigated. No difference was found between the parasite communities of the 2 spawning races of the host population. Mean abundance and prevalence of the different parasite species showed seasonal variation. Numbers of parasite species and numbers of parasites increased with fish length. The role of A. tobianus as an intermediate host for helminths was assessed; it was determined that most were infectious to birds or mammals, with the majority of the parasite species being autogenic (infectious to fish). The mean number of parasites per fish was nearly a quarter of the value recorded for A. tobianus in the North Sea, where a much higher intensity of infection was recorded.

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