The occurrence and life history of Asymphylodora kubanicum (Platyhelminthes: Digenea: Monorchidae) in the Worcester-Birmingham canal, with special reference to the feeding habits of the definitive host, Rutilus rutilus


  • N. A. Evans

    1. Department of Zoology and Comparative Physiology, The University, P.O. Box 363, Birmingham
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    • *Department of Applied Biology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England.


Two hundred roach and over 400 molluscs were examined over a one year period to investigate the occurrence and life history of Asymphylodora kubanicum in the Worcester-Birmingham canal. Larval stages, infective to the fish definitive host, were present in molluscs throughout the year but did not show a seasonal fluctuation in numbers. Parasites in the intestine of the roach showed a marked annual cycle of occurrence and maturation: low winter infection levels preceded a dramatic increase in infection during the spring and summer. Maturation of the parasite population was rapid during the spring and summer and in late summer and early autumn the parasites laid their eggs and subsequently died. The death of parasites after egg-laying resulted in the low winter infection level during which time little recruitment occurred.

Roach became infected mainly in their third year when molluscs become a dominant component of their diet. Thereafter the older fishes (<2+) are all equally susceptible to infection, but the larger (older) fishes become more heavily infected because of the greater consumption of molluscs per fish. The sex of the fish made no difference to infection with the parasite.