Multi-annual changes in the parasite communities of rabbitfish Siganus rivulatus (Siganidae) in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

R. Dzikowski, I. Paperna, A. Diamant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The parasite communities of the rabbitfish, Siganus rivulatus, were used to track multi-annual changes in the northern Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, in an environment subjected to ongoing anthropogenic impact. Parasitological data from these fish were collected from 1998 to 2000, with spring and fall samplings at three locations: at a coral reef (OBS), at a sandy beach area (NB) and at a mariculture cage farm (FF). These data were compared with data from 1995-1997 as well as data collected during 1981-1985 at the coral reef sampling site. The data analyses indicate that the ratio between heteroxenous and monoxenous parasite species declined significantly at all sites between 1995-1997 and 1998-2000. During the same period, the species richness of monoxenous parasites increased significantly at all sites. The species richness of heteroxenous parasites decreased significantly at the coral reef site, but remained steady at the other two sites. This coincided with a significant increase in the prevalence of monogeneans at the OBS and FF sites and a significant decrease in the prevalence of digeneans at the FF and NB sites. The decline in the abundance of the latter, specifically of Opisthogonoporoides sp. and Gyliauchen sp., was even more significant when compared with the 1981-1985 data. The prevalence of other gut helminths, namely the digenean Hexangium sigani and the nematodes Cucullanus sigani and Procamallanus elatensis, however, showed a significant increase over the same period. Analysis of the species richness and diversity indices of the parasite communities did not reveal conspicuous differences. These, however, did become apparent when heteroxenous and monoxenous members of particular taxa were analyzed separately. Therefore, when using parasite assemblages to detect ecological changes, it is essential to analyze not only at the community level, but also to consider separate components of particular parasitic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-235
Number of pages8
JournalHelgoland Marine Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The field and laboratory assistance of Ayana Banet and Yariv Shtupler throughout different stages of this study is gratefully acknowledged. This study was supported by the German-Israeli Cooperation in Marine Science (MARS), Project Biological Indicators of Natural and Man-made Changes in Marine and Coastal Waters, BMBF-Code 03F0200A coordinated by G.K.S.S. Geesthacht and the Israel Ministry of Sciences and Arts.


  • Diversity indices
  • Rabbitfish
  • Red Sea
  • Siganus rivulatus
  • Species richness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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