Southern garfish Hyporhamphus melanochir were examined for metazoan parasites from nine sites in three regions (Spencer Gulf, Gulf St Vincent and northern Kangaroo Island) in South Australia to document parasite assemblages, identify candidate species suitable for use as biological tags and investigate spatial variation in parasite abundance. Four ectoparasite and 10 endoparasite species were identified representing Cestoda, Trematoda, Monogenea, Nematoda, Acanthocephala, Copepoda and Isopoda. Lernaeenicus hemirhamphi, Micracanthorhynchina hemirhamphi, Mothocya halei and Philometra sp. were suggested for ‘permanent’ biological markers. Multivariate discriminant function analysis showed that most sites could be distinguished based on differences in parasite abundance. Four endoparasites (Conohelmins sp., Hysterothylacium sp., M. hemirhamphi and Philometra sp.) were most important for site characterization. Limited spatial variation in permanent endoparasite abundance among localities in northern Spencer Gulf provided evidence for a distinct northern Spencer Gulf population with little interregional mixing. In contrast, considerable spatial variation in permanent endoparasite abundance between localities sampled off Kangaroo Island implied limited local movement and suggested H. melanochir may comprise a metapopulation structure. These results largely align with recent evidence from otolith chemistry that indicates fine-scale geographical population structuring in South Australian waters.
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