No common name

Diclidophora merlangi

ORDER

Polyopisthocotylea

FAMILY

Diclidophoridae

TAXONOMY

Diclidophora merlangi Nordmann, 1832; Kroyer, 1838.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length may exceed 0.27 in (7 mm). Haptor has four pairs of clamps on stalks (peduncles); no hooks in adult. Mouth terminal (anterior) located at one end; buccal cavity contains two buccal suckers. No sticky pads or eversible sacs. No eyes. Small pharynx. Numerous testes. Penis bulb armed with spines.

DISTRIBUTION

Likely to be present wherever specific host whiting, Merlangius merlangus, is found, but not systematically mapped.

HABITAT

Gill parasite, strictly host-specific to Merlangius merlangus; 1-12 parasites per fish. Adults prefer first gill arch.

BEHAVIOR

Parasite attaches itself to secondary gill lamellae using clamps. No evidence that adult is able to change location on gill. Each clamp has two jaws supported by sclerites. Jaws drawn together by suction generated by lifting a diaphragm near hinge line of clamp. Clamp peduncles enable parasite to span as many as five primary gill lamellae. Parasite's body lies between two hemi-branchs of a gill. Gill-ventilating current washes both sides of parasite equally; consequently parasite has symmetrical shape.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Feeds on blood.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Juveniles probably migrate mainly to first gill, where adults settle near one another. Insemination is unilateral in detached adults. Sperms enter recipient via breaches in tegument made by genital spines.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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