Hematodinium sp. in irish cancer pagurus fisheries: infection intensity as a potential fisheries management tool
Ní Chualáin, C
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Ní Chualáin, C; Hayes, M; Allen, B; Robinson, M (2009). Hematodinium sp. in irish cancer pagurus fisheries: infection intensity as a potential fisheries management tool. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 83 (1), 59-66
Infection of Cancer pagurus by a parasitic dinoflagellate of the genus Hematodinium is described for the first time in Ireland. An industry-based monitoring programme was established to determine seasonality of infection intensity and prevalence in the country's 3 largest brown crab fisheries in the southwest, north and southeast. The parasite was present in all areas for the majority of sampling periods, with highest prevalences recorded in pre-recruit animals of both sexes. Microscopic examination of haemolymph revealed trophont, plasmodial and dinospore stages of the parasite. Overall prevalence in males (16%) was higher than in females (9%). Prevalence of Hematodinium sp. infection ranged from 0 to 51%, but a distinct seasonal trend was not apparent. Infection intensity was seasonal with significantly higher peaks occurring in late autumn/early winter months than in other quarters, corresponding to industry reports of moribund and dead pink-shelled crabs in commercial catches. We postulate that seawater temperature or a temperature-linked process is a key factor in triggering the final stages of infection, as significant autumn peaks were followed by a reduction in infection intensity as temperature decreased in the late winter/early spring months with no increase in intensity again until the following autumn. We propose that infection intensity, rather than prevalence, provides a more appropriate indication of the period when there is greatest potential for biological and economic impacts; the parameter's application as a fisheries management tool is discussed.