Biological Sciences, School of


Date of this Version

Summer 7-14-2010


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Biological Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor John Janovy, Jr. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2010
Copyright 2010 Alaine Kathryn Knipes


An investigation was made of the communities of gill monogene genus Dactylogyrus (Platyhelminthes, Monogenea) and the populations of blackspot parasite (Platyhelminthes, Trematoda) of Pimephales promelas, Notropis stramineus, and Semotilus atromaculatus in 3 distinct sites along the 3 converging tributaries in southeastern Nebraska from 2004 to 2006. This work constitutes the first multi-site, multi-year study of a complex community of Dactylogyrus spp. and their reproductive activities on native North American cyprinid species. The biological hypothesis that closely related species with direct lifecycles respond differently to shared environmental conditions was tested. It was revealed that in this system that, Cyprinid species do not share Dactylogyrus species, host size and sex are not predictive of infection, and Dactylogyrus community structure is stable, despite variation in seasonal occurrence and populations among sites. The biological hypothesis that closely related species have innate differences in reproductive activities that provide structure to their populations and influence their roles in the parasite community was tested. It was revealed that in this system, host size, sex, and collection site are not predictive of reproductive activities, that egg production is not always continuous and varies in duration among congeners, and that recruitment of larval Dactylogyrus is not continuous across parasites’ reproductive periods. Hatch timing and host availability, not reproductive timing, are the critical factors determining population dynamics of the gill monogenes in time and space. Lastly, the biological hypothesis that innate blackspot biology is responsible for parasite host-specificity, host recruitment strategies and parasite population structure was tested. Field collections revealed that for blackspot, host size, sex, and collection month and year are not predictive of infection, that parasite cysts survive winter, and that host movement is restricted among the 3 collection sites. Finally, experimental infections of hosts with cercaria isolated from 1st intermediate snail hosts reveal that cercarial biology, not environmental circumstances, are responsible for differences in infection among hosts.

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