Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A parasitic Cymothoid Isopod from the Virgin Islands.

Cymothoids are Isopod Crustaceans, related to terrestrial Woodlice and Pill Bugs, but found in marine environments, where they are parasitic on Fish, typically living in the throat or gills, or on the external surface of the skin. Species which infest the gills of their host are often asymmetrical, with a slightly twisted shape that reflects the shape of the gill arches. These Crustaceans are typically quite harmful to their hosts, causing damage to the gills and branchial filaments, often leading to loss of part of the gills, with a subsequent effect on the development of the Fish.

In a paper published in the journal Zookeys on 10 September 2014, Kerry Hadfield of the Water Research Group (Ecology) at the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North West University, Paul Sikkel of the Department of Biological Sciences at Arkansas State University and Nico Smit, also of the Water Research Group (Ecology), describe a new species of Cymothoid Crustacean from the Virgin Islands.

The new species is placed in the genus Mothocya and given the specific name bertlucy, in honour of Ernest H. (‘Bert’) Williams Jr. and Lucy Bunkley-Williams of the University of PuertoRico, on the occasion of their retirement, and in recognition of their contribution to the study of parasitology in the marine ecosystems of the Caribbean. Mothocyabertlucy was found infesting the gills of the Redlip Blenny, Ophioblennius macclurei around St. John Island and St Thomas Island in the US Virgin Islands and Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Mothocya bertlucy(top) female and (bottom) male, both in lateral view. Hadfield et al. (2014).

Mature females of Mothocya bertlucy reach 7.0-9.0 mm in length and are slightly twisted. Males reach about 6.0 mm in length and are untwisted. The species is small compared to other members of the genus, and has small eyes for its size. It is the first species of Mothocyato have been found infecting a Blenny.

Mothocya bertlucy(left) female and (right) male, both in dorsal view. Hadfield et al. (2014).
See also…

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