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Diet assimilation trends and host-parasite relationships in two species of sunfish (Lepomis) revealed by stable isotope analyses of multiple tissues

Liang Zhang, Kristen Vanderhorst, Kurt Kyser, Linda Campbell
Parasitology research 2018 v.117 no.4 pp. 1043-1049
Lepomis macrochirus, Pomphorhynchus, Posthodiplostomum, adults, carbon, carbon nitrogen ratio, diet, flukes, food webs, freshwater fish, freshwater lakes, hookworms, host-parasite relationships, hosts, intestines, liver, nitrogen, sexual maturity, stable isotopes, tissues
White grub flukes, Posthodiplostomum minimum centrarchi (Trematoda), and hookworms Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli (Acanthocephala) are common internal parasites for many North American freshwater fishes. P. minimum are found as cysts in internal organ tissues, while P. bulbocolli are found as sexually mature adults in gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen (δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N) are commonly used to infer food web relationships in freshwater lakes. To see if δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N could be used to analyze parasite-host relationships, we analyzed the stable isotopes of the two species of parasites and various tissue types of their fish hosts (bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish) from different host tissues. The samples δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N demonstrated that P. minimum and P. bulbocolli fed on the fish hosts livers and intestines, respectively. It is also corroborated by correlations in C/N ratios of those fish parasites and their fish host tissues. This study highlights the importance of identifying the specific host tissues parasites feed on in stable isotope analysis.