Abstract

A host–parasite relationship was observed, for the first time, between a piscicolid leech and a species of amphibious goby (Scartelaos tenuis) from an intertidal mud flat in southern Iran. Morphological and molecular investigations assign the leech to Zeylanicobdella arugamensis. Of the 3 endemic and sympatric mudskipper species living in the Persian Gulf (S. tenuis, Boleophthalmus dussumieri, and Periophthalmus waltoni), leeches were only found on S. tenuis (prevalence and mean intensity  =  71.4% and 2.3 ± 2.5, respectively), which is also the most-aquatic mudskipper species. Scartelaos tenuis is not the largest species, but more leeches (≥4 leeches/host) were found on larger specimens (>12 cm standard length [SL]). Nonetheless, in aquaria, leeches also attached on P. waltoni. This suggests either an ecological partitioning of host–parasite complexes, determined by host habitat selection, or leech limited-resistance to air exposure, or both.

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