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Title: Drivers of parasite communities in three sympatric benthic sharks in the Gulf of Naples (central Mediterranean Sea)
Authors: Santoro, Mario
Bellisario, Bruno
Tanduo, Valentina
Crocetta, Fabio
Palomba, Marialetizia 
Issue Date: 2022
Sharks play a key role in the functioning of marine ecosystems and maintenance of trophic web balance, including life cycles of parasites co-occurring in their habitats. We investigated the structure of parasite communities of three sympatric shark species (Etmopterus spinax, Galeus melastomus, and Scyliorhinus canicula) and explored both the influence of host features in shaping the communities and their role as biological indicators of environment stability in the Gulf of Naples (central Mediterranean Sea), a geographical area characterized by strong anthropic pressure. Parasites found were all trophic transmitted helminths with a complex life cycle, except Lernaeopoda galei, that is a ecto-parasite copepod. Communities were all similarly impoverished with 4-5 component species and low values of species richness and diversity. Higher abundance of cestode larvae of the genus Grillotia was found in G. melastomus, although their dominance in all host species suggests that the three sharks have a similar role as intermediate/paratenic hosts in local food webs. Similarly, high abundance of Grillotia larvae could also suggest the occurrence of high abundance of largest top predators in the area. Host morphological (fork length in S. canicula and G. melastomus and body condition index in G. melastomus) and physiological (sex and gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices in S. canicula) variables were differently correlated to parasite community structures depending by host species. Potential reasons for the present impoverished parasite communities are discussed.
ISSN: 20452322
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-14024-0
Rights: CC0 1.0 Universal
Appears in Collections:A1. Articolo in rivista

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