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      An annotated list of fish parasites (Isopoda, Copepoda, Monogenea, Digenea, Cestoda, Nematoda) collected from Snappers and Bream (Lutjanidae, Nemipteridae, Caesionidae) in New Caledonia confirms high parasite biodiversity on coral reef fish

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          Coral reefs are areas of maximum biodiversity, but the parasites of coral reef fishes, and especially their species richness, are not well known. Over an 8-year period, parasites were collected from 24 species of Lutjanidae, Nemipteridae and Caesionidae off New Caledonia, South Pacific.


          Host-parasite and parasite-host lists are provided, with a total of 207 host-parasite combinations and 58 parasite species identified at the species level, with 27 new host records. Results are presented for isopods, copepods, monogeneans, digeneans, cestodes and nematodes. When results are restricted to well-sampled reef fish species (sample size > 30), the number of host-parasite combinations is 20–25 per fish species, and the number of parasites identified at the species level is 9–13 per fish species. Lutjanids include reef-associated fish and deeper sea fish from the outer slopes of the coral reef: fish from both milieus were compared. Surprisingly, parasite biodiversity was higher in deeper sea fish than in reef fish (host-parasite combinations: 12.50 vs 10.13, number of species per fish 3.75 vs 3.00); however, we identified four biases which diminish the validity of this comparison. Finally, these results and previously published results allow us to propose a generalization of parasite biodiversity for four major families of reef-associated fishes (Lutjanidae, Nemipteridae, Serranidae and Lethrinidae): well-sampled fish have a mean of 20 host-parasite combinations per fish species, and the number of parasites identified at the species level is 10 per fish species.


          Since all precautions have been taken to minimize taxon numbers, it is safe to affirm than the number of fish parasites is at least ten times the number of fish species in coral reefs, for species of similar size or larger than the species in the four families studied; this is a major improvement to our estimate of biodiversity in coral reefs. Our results suggest that extinction of a coral reef fish species would eventually result in the coextinction of at least ten species of parasites.

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          Most cited references 112

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          Catastrophes, phase shifts, and large-scale degradation of a Caribbean coral reef.

          Many coral reefs have been degraded over the past two to three decades through a combination of human and natural disturbances. In Jamaica, the effects of overfishing, hurricane damage, and disease have combined to destroy most corals, whose abundance has declined from more than 50 percent in the late 1970s to less than 5 percent today. A dramatic phase shift has occurred, producing a system dominated by fleshy macroalgae (more than 90 percent cover). Immediate implementation of management procedures is necessary to avoid further catastrophic damage.
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            Global trajectories of the long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems.

            Degradation of coral reef ecosystems began centuries ago, but there is no global summary of the magnitude of change. We compiled records, extending back thousands of years, of the status and trends of seven major guilds of carnivores, herbivores, and architectural species from 14 regions. Large animals declined before small animals and architectural species, and Atlantic reefs declined before reefs in the Red Sea and Australia, but the trajectories of decline were markedly similar worldwide. All reefs were substantially degraded long before outbreaks of coral disease and bleaching. Regardless of these new threats, reefs will not survive without immediate protection from human exploitation over large spatial scales.
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              Regional Decline of Coral Cover in the Indo-Pacific: Timing, Extent, and Subregional Comparisons

              Background A number of factors have recently caused mass coral mortality events in all of the world's tropical oceans. However, little is known about the timing, rate or spatial variability of the loss of reef-building corals, especially in the Indo-Pacific, which contains 75% of the world's coral reefs. Methodology/Principle Findings We compiled and analyzed a coral cover database of 6001 quantitative surveys of 2667 Indo-Pacific coral reefs performed between 1968 and 2004. Surveys conducted during 2003 indicated that coral cover averaged only 22.1% (95% CI: 20.7, 23.4) and just 7 of 390 reefs surveyed that year had coral cover >60%. Estimated yearly coral cover loss based on annually pooled survey data was approximately 1% over the last twenty years and 2% between 1997 and 2003 (or 3,168 km2 per year). The annual loss based on repeated measures regression analysis of a subset of reefs that were monitored for multiple years from 1997 to 2004 was 0.72 % (n = 476 reefs, 95% CI: 0.36, 1.08). Conclusions/Significance The rate and extent of coral loss in the Indo-Pacific are greater than expected. Coral cover was also surprisingly uniform among subregions and declined decades earlier than previously assumed, even on some of the Pacific's most intensely managed reefs. These results have significant implications for policy makers and resource managers as they search for successful models to reverse coral loss.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]UMR 7138 Systématique, Adaptation, Évolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Case postale 51, 55, rue Buffon, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France
                [2 ]Department of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Veterinary Clinical Centre, Werribee, 3030, Victoria, Australia
                [3 ]Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK
                [4 ]Biodiversity Program, Queensland Museum, PO Box 3300, South Brisbane, Queensland, 4101, Australia
                [5 ]Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Branišovská, 31 370 05, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
                [6 ]Équipe Adaptation écophysiologique et Ontogenèse, UMR 5119 (CNRS-UM2-IRD-UM1-IFREMER), Université Montpellier 2, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095, Montpellier cedex 05, France
                [7 ]Monogenean Research Laboratory, The South Australian Museum, Adelaide 5000, & Marine Parasitology Laboratory, & Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, 5005, South Australia, Australia
                Aquat Biosyst
                Aquat Biosyst
                Aquatic Biosystems
                BioMed Central
                4 September 2012
                : 8
                : 22
                Copyright ©2012 Justine et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



                lutjanidae, parasites, new caledonia, coextinction, south pacific, biodiversity, coral reefs


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