Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Infection of newly recruited American eels (Anguilla rostrata) by the invasive swimbladder parasite Anguillicoloides crassus in a US Atlantic tidal creek.

Abstract

Little is known about the infection status of glass eel and elver stages of the American eel Anguilla rostrata by the invasive swimbladder parasite Anguillicoloides crassus. This study examined infection by adult and larval A. crassus in glass eels (n=274) and elvers (n=199) collected during March-December 2013 from an eel ladder at a dammed creek near Charleston, SC, USA. Among all the eels examined [total lengths (TLs), 34-156 mm], the prevalence (±SE), mean abundance, and mean intensity of A. crassus worms was 29.4±2.1%, 0.88±0.12, and 2.98±0.34, respectively. Infection by A. crassus was not detected in the earliest glass eel development stages (pigment stages 1-3), but it was detected in more advanced stages (pigment stages 4-7) and fully pigmented elvers. From March to July, parasite prevalence increased significantly with eel TL, and all eels 125 mm or longer (n=13) were infected. From August-December, when fewer eels were caught, parasite prevalence was generally lower and less dependent on the eel TL. Our study demonstrates the potential risk of spreading A. crassus to new areas by transporting live glass eels and elvers. This is of particular relevance because our study site was located in the Cooper River drainage, one of the few locations in the USA that permits a glass eel harvest.