On behalf of the ASP Council I would like to wish you all Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!
ASP President, Prof Barbara Nowak, University of Tasmania
Image Chromis nitida fish with Anilocra pomacentri parasite attached copyright Robert D. Adlard 1986.
On our Season’s Greetings card the fish is the Shining Puller, Chromis nitida, and the parasite is an ectoparasitic isopod, Anilocra pomacentri. The isopod is attached (not swimming) at that site on the fish using its sharply hooked first 3 pairs of ‘legs’ (pereopods) which penetrate through the epidermis, dermis and into the muscle. The association lasts over 12 months and ends when the isopod dies and eventually is dislodged. During that time the isopod produces around 3 broods of ‘mancae’ (miniature free-swimming isopods) totalling around 250-300 individuals. The fish is impacted through slowed growth (energy budget thing here due to intermittent blood-feeding by the parasite) and fecundity reduced to about 10% of that of an uninfected fish.
Rob took this picture while he was doing his PhD and living at Heron Island, it is also the frontispiece of his thesis. He used this host/parasite system to explore the dynamics of infection in a coral reef system and there may be some ASP members who recognise it from talks at conferences and lectures.