The monogene Dactylogyrus eucalius Mizelle and Regensberger, 1945 and its ability to maintain a population from year to year on the annual fish Culaea inconstans Kirkland was examined in a small lake in central Ontario. Fish were sampled toward the end of their annual breeding season, at a time when the host population consisted of 2 cohorts, i.e., young-of-the-year (0+) and mature adults (1+). Prevalence of infection was 94%, with a mean intensity of 8.8 ± 9.6; neither measure varied significantly with host length or between cohorts (P > 0.05). At necropsy, parasites were characterized as juveniles that included postoncomiracidia (immature, with a ventrally directed haptor) as well as developing protandrous males (body with a near-complete haptor and with little or no pigmented vitellaria), or as adults (with testis, ovarium, darkened vitellaria, and occasionally bearing a tanned egg). The proportion of juvenile to adult parasites differed significantly between cohorts (P < 0.05), with 0+ fish infected with a mixture of juveniles and adults, whereas 1+ fish had almost exclusively adult parasites. Since adult (1+) brook stickleback typically die after spawning, the increased frequency of juvenile parasites exploiting juvenile hosts may represent an evolutionary adaptation, maximizing the chances of parasites infecting hosts that will enter winter. It is suspected that 0+ fish can be infected in the nest within 2 wk of hatching and persist by effectively infecting new host recruits when they are sympatric with their parents.

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