Parasite fauna of introduced pumpkinseed fish Lepomis gibbosus: first British record of Onchocleidus dispar (Monogenea).
A survey of pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus from a stillwater fishery in southern England revealed infections by the ancyrocephalid monogenean Onchocleidus dispar at 100% prevalence. Host specificity of O. dispar to North American centrarchid fish suggests that it is a non-native parasite, introduced to Britain with L. gibbosus. Mean intensity of O. dispar was significantly higher in male (25.5 parasites) compared to female (15) and immature (7) hosts, but was not influenced by host standard length or sampling time. This sex-biased parasitism is likely to be related to both ecological and physiological factors, such as differential exposure to infective stages during nest building, or higher susceptibility to infection due to enhanced host stress levels. O. dispar significantly dominated the external surfaces and the outer gill arches. Analysis of the spatial distribution of the parasite between the 9 regions of gill surface determined that as density increased, higher numbers of parasites were found on the anterior and central gill regions compared to posterior (distal) regions. Apparent microhabitat selection is discussed in terms O. dispar lifecycle, maximising oxygen availability, avoiding unstable areas and increasing intraspecific contact. The absence of O. dispar in the gills of roach, rudd and gudgeon sampled from the same fishery supports the assumption that this parasite is currently of little threat to native fish populations.