By W.H.R. Lumsden, R. Muller, J.R. Baker (Eds.)
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Extra info for Advances in Parasitology, Vol. 19
On the other hand, fish that remain in the low-salinity environment are not in danger of infection. This example leads to the interpretation of the uneven distribution of the copepod on its host population as another aspect of host location, rather than host selection sensu stricto. The copepods are able to locate some parts of the population more readily than others. It is well known that fish populations are often spacially segregated by age, or sex, or both. An area ecologically accessible to the copepod might be occupied by fish of a certain age/size group; hence that age/size group is much more likely to acquire the copepod.
The ergasilids, for all their lack of modification and rather loose type of association with their hosts, have only three naupliar stages, whereas the sarcotacids, greatly modified endoparasitic copepods, have the original ancestral five stages. The latter might also have transferred their infective stage from the preadult to the first copepodid stage. Among Lernaeopodidae, the Clavella-branch appears to have eliminated the chalimus segment of the life cycle, in contrast to other branches of the family.
The erratic track of L . pectoralis, which had criss-crossed the vessel, passing over, or close to, the fish on more than one occasion, gave no hint of the clues which eventually effected the contact between the host and the parasite. The author concluded that host recognition was tactile and that distant chemoreception was absent. We simply have no idea of the sensory physiology of the copepod and can only surmise the inputs that elicit the attachment reflex. Presumably currents caused by the movements or respiration of the fish are among the factors directing the copepod to it.