Parasites as biological tags of marine, freshwater and anadromous fishes in North America from the tropics to the Arctic

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Parasites have been considered as natural biological tags of marine fish populations in North America for almost 75 years. In the Northwest Atlantic, the most studied species include Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and the redfishes (Sebastes spp.). In the North Pacific, research has centred primarily on salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.). However, parasites have been applied as tags for numerous other pelagic and demersal species on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Relatively few studies have been undertaken in the Arctic, and these were designed to discriminate anadromous and resident salmonids (Salvelinus spp.). Although rarely applied in fresh waters, parasites have been used to delineate certain fish stocks within the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River basin. Anisakid nematodes and the copepod Sphyrion lumpi frequently prove useful indicators in the Northwest Atlantic, while myxozoan parasites prove very effective on the coast and open seas of the Pacific Ocean. Relative differences in the ability of parasites to discriminate between fish stocks on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts may be due to oceanographic and bathymetric differences between regions. Molecular techniques used to differentiate populations and species of parasites show promise in future applications in the field.

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