Assessing impacts of multiple parasites on Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) across age classes, rivers and salinity in Chesapeake Bay.
Striped Bass , Parasites , Fish , Chesapeake Bay
Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) are ecologically and economically important anadromous species that live along the East Coast of the United States between Canada and Florida. Most of the fish are born in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, which is where the samples for this study were collected, including fish from the age classes: Young-Of-Year (YOY) (<1year) (n=486), juveniles(n=68) and adults(n=20). In this study, I examined the potential linkage between the health of the Striped Bass with the intensity and richness of various parasite taxa, such as acanthocephalans, nematodes, trematodes (digenea and monogenea), copepods (argulidae, caligidae and ergasilidae) and isopods. I also examined variation in parasite intensity and richness across age classes, tributaries and salinity. The Fulton’s Condition Factor (K) was used as the metric of health. Pearson’s correlation test was used to determine if there was a statistically significant difference among each variable examined and the Fulton’s Condition Factor (K). None of the results were statistically significant (p > 0.05), indicating fish with and without parasites present are in similar conditions. However, there were more Striped Bass infected with parasites (n=419, 73%) compared to those without (n=155, 27%), and many of these infected fish were YOY (n=331, 79%). Second, there was a difference between the Striped Bass collected across nine tributaries. The furthest North tributaries (Upper Bay, Rhode and Choptank) had fish with the highest parasite intensity and richness (> 100 individuals per sample). Third, there was a difference between Striped Bass collected from the various salinity ranges (0.00-12.99 ppt). The higher salinity levels (7.00-12.99 ppt) had more fish infected with high parasite intensity but less parasite variability compared to the lower salinity levels (0.00-6.99 ppt). Overall, there may be a difference in the health condition of the Striped Bass compared to non parasitized fish, but more samples across all age classes need to be collected.