The endohelminth fauna of barbel (Barbus barbus) correlates with water quality of the Danube River in Bulgaria.
Infection of barbel with 10 species of metazoan parasites including 3 trematodes, 3 acanthocephalans and 4 nematodes was observed in fish collected from 3 localities in the Bulgarian part of the river Danube between summer 2004 and summer 2007. The composition as well as the diversity characteristics of the parasite communities were analysed seasonally and showed a clear correlation with the composition of the invertebrate fauna and water quality. The most prevalent species was the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus laevis, which was also the dominant species of the intestinal component communities at all sampling sites. The second most frequent parasite at all Danube localities was Rhabdochona hellichi, which occurred in significantly higher numbers at the less polluted sites. Overall, the diversity of helminth communities increased with decreasing levels of nutrients and pollutants at all sampling sites. Therefore, the composition and diversity of parasite communities may be used to characterize ecosystem health and integrity.
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