Helminth communities of fish as ecological indicators of lake health

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Abstract

SUMMARY

This paper deals largely with the dynamics and changes in the helminth parasite communities of fish along the trophic gradient of lakes. The use of parasitological community data as a bioindicator of environmental health underlines the need to study parasite communities at comparable localities with known pollution levels. The comparison of the conditions in different habitats might be helpful to differentiate between normal fluctuations in ambient conditions and pollution-mediated effects. Therefore, the present study was designed to examine the community structure of parasites in snow trout (Schizothorax niger Heckel) inhabiting 3 lakes of contrasting trophic status in Kashmir. The idea of selecting the lakes, namely Anchar (strongly hypereutrophic), Dal (eutrophic) and Manasbal (mesotrophic) for this study was intentional as they depict different trophic gradients and exhibit the desirable pattern which was a prerequisite for this study. The findings presented in this article suggest an apparent lake-wise gradient in community structure, as the increase in trematode and cestode infections in Anchar was markedly greater, to levels clearly distinguishable from those in the other two water bodies. We conclude that human-induced eutrophication of lakes modifies the parasite community at component level and community-level studies on parasites may provide information on health status of lakes.

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