The role of the European bitterling (Rhodeus amarus, Cyprinidae) in parasite accumulation and transmission in riverine ecosystems

Davidova M., Blazek R., Trichkova T., Koutrakis E., Gaygusuz O. , Ercan E., ...More

AQUATIC ECOLOGY, vol.45, no.3, pp.377-387, 2011 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 45 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10452-011-9361-0
  • Title of Journal : AQUATIC ECOLOGY
  • Page Numbers: pp.377-387


In aquatic ecosystems, fish play a key role in parasite accumulation and transmission to predacious animals. In the present study, realized on seven populations of a small cyprinid fish species, the European bitterling Rhodeus amarus, we investigated (1) the role of the European bitterling as a potential intermediate or paratenic host, (2) the ability of the fish to accumulate parasites with similar final host group, and (3) its significance as a potential source of parasite infection in the ecosystem in respect to habitat characteristics. A total of 36 parasite species were recorded; 31 species (90% of all parasite specimens) were classified as endoparasites. Most of the endoparasites were found in the larval life stage, using bitterling as an intermediate or paratenic host. In particular, parasite community structure showed significantly higher proportions of allogenic parasites in comparison with autogenic. The supposed co-occurrence of parasite species with identical final host groups showed only a weak association. The adjacent reservoir areas were a significant determinant of both the total and infracommunity parasite species richness and for the mean parasite abundance. No relationship between the distance of sampling site from the adjacent reservoir and parasite community characteristics was found. As a small-sized fish with a wide distribution range and high local abundances, the European bitterling can represent a natural prey for a wide range of piscivorous predators. Due to its susceptibility to the number of larval endoparasites, this fish species may therefore fulfill the role as important transmitter of parasites to their final hosts.