Infestation of Pseudione tuberculata (Isopoda: Bopyridae) on juveniles of Lithodes santolla (Magellan region, Chile): a spatial mesoscale analysis
We document latitudinal patterns of infestation of the bopyrid parasite isopod Pseudione tuberculata on southern king crab Lithodes santolla juveniles (20-77 mm carapace length) recruited to fishing grounds in the southern Chilean fjord system. Seven hundred and fifty individuals were collected by semi-autonomous diving in 11 of 21 sampling locations in the study area, along the western margin of the Magellan region between August and October 2013.The prevalence of P. tuberculata varied between 0 and ~22%, and displayed a spatial pattern associated with three areas: i) northern Beagle Channel (10 to ~22%; lengths between 37 and 47 mm), ii) northwestern Navarino Island without infestations (0%; 26-55 mm), and iii) Piazzi Island-Capitán Aracena Island (0-12%; 50-77 mm). Infestations were independent of host sex, while parasite prevalence decreased with host length. No parasites were observed on crabs longer than 60 mm. A comparison of slopes between linearized length-weight regressions suggests that parasitized individuals had lower weight growth than uninfested individuals. Both southern king crab juvenile density and P. tuberculata prevalence were higher in fishing areas towards Beagle Channel where previous research reported lower average surface water temperatures (<6.5°C) and higher surface water salinity (>30). The study area covers five zones relevant for the conservation and protection of sub Antarctic biodiversity, and provides opportunities for large-scale geographic studies of the host-parasite relationship.