Parasites of Aquatic Exotic Invertebrates: Identification of Potential Risks Posed to the Great Lakes


Exotic species typically lose most of their associated parasites during long-distance spread. However, the few parasites that are co-introduced may have considerable adverse impacts on their novel hosts, including mass mortalities. We present a comprehensive inventory of parasites known to infect 38 species of exotic invertebrates established in the Great Lakes, as well as 16 invertebrate species predicted to arrive in the near future, all of them crustaceans. Based on a literature analysis, we identified a total of 277 parasite taxa associated with the examined invertebrates in their native ranges and/or invaded areas. Of these parasites, 56 species have been documented to cause various pathologies in their intermediate or final hosts, with humans and fishes being the most frequently affected host categories. Potentially harmful parasites were identified in 61% of the invaders for which published information was retrieved (in their ranges outside of the Great Lakes), with molluscs and crustaceans hosting the highest numbers of such parasites. The results of our study provide a baseline for further assessment and management of the parasitological risks posed by exotic species to the Great Lakes.



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