Parasitology, Harold W. Manter Laboratory of


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Published in Parassitologia (2007) 49: 161-168. Copyright 2007, the Italian Society of Parasitology. Invited paper presented at the 7th International Symposium on Fish Parasites (ISFP VII: Viterbo, Italy, held September 24-28, 2007). Used by permission.


Hurricanes, also called tropical cyclones, can dramatically affect life along their paths, including a temporary losing or reducing in number of parasites of fishes. Hurricane Katrina in the northern Gulf of Mexico in August 2005 provides many examples involving humans and both terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants. Fishes do not provide much of an indicator of hurricane activity because most species quickly repopulate the area. Fish parasites, however, serve as a good indicator of the overall biodiversity and environmental health. The reasons for the noted absence or reduction of parasites in fishes are many, and specific parasites provide indications of different processes. The powerful winds can produce perturbations of the sediments harboring intermediate hosts. The surge of high salinity water can kill or otherwise affect low salinity intermediate hosts or free-living stages. Both can introduce toxicants into the habitat and also interfere with the timing and processes involved with host-parasite interrelationships. All these have had a major influence on fish parasite populations of fishes in coastal Mississippi, especially for those parasites incorporating intermediate hosts in their life cycles. The length of time for a parasite to become re-established can vary considerably, depending on its life cycle as well as the associated biota, habitat, and environmental conditions, and each parasite provides a special indicator of environmental health.

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