Metechinorhynchus salmonis infection and diet in the river-spawning whitefish of the Bothnian Bay



A total of 206 river-spawning whitefish Coregonus lavaretus (L.) from the Bothnian Bay was investigated for food objects and acanthocephalans in the years 1975–78. The only acanthocephalan species found was Metechinorhynchus salmonis (Müller 1780), the total number of which was 1295.

The whitefish is shown to be highly susceptible to infection by M. salmonis, with as many as 88·9% of specimens infected in a sample in June 1978, although the mean intensity was only 8·9 parasites per host. The river-spawning whitefish does not favour the intermediate host, Pontoporeia affinis, in its summer diet in the Bothnian Bay preferring to feed on eggs and molluscs, so that the incidence of M. salmonis infection decreases to 33·3% by the middle of summer. This is further reduced in the late summer by the fast associated with the migration to their upriver spawning grounds. The fact that the other acanthocephalan inhabiting the river-spawning whitefish in the southern Gulf of Bothnia, Echinorhynchus gadi Müller, 1776 is not to be found in the Bothnian Bay population suggests that the fish captured in spring have remained in the Bothnian Bay throughout the winter.