Parasites of sentinel bivalves in the NOAA Status and Trends Program: Distribution and relationship to contaminant body burden Academic Article uri icon


  • The National Status and Trends Mussel Watch data for 1997 were used to compare the distribution of parasites between sentinel bivalves of the East, West, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts of the USA and to assess the relationship of parasitism to contaminant body burden. Overall, five patterns dominated the geographic distribution of the parasite fauna. (1) Certain parasites, such as Nematopsis, were principally associated with oysters from the southeast and Gulf coasts. (2) Discounting Nematopsis, oysters and mussels did not differ significantly in total parasite infection intensity. (3) West coast mussel populations were always lower in infection intensity than East coast mussels and rarely showed anything but a sporadic pattern of infection. (4) East coast mussels typically had a focus of infection in the Boston Harbor region. (5) With the exception of Nematopsis, mussels on the West coast, Mytilus edulis and Mytilus californianus, did not differ significantly in their parasite fauna. The geographic distributions of most parasites and disease-causing organisms varied independently. Any two parasites rarely co-occurred predictably over wide areas and never on more than one coast. Certain contaminants were correlated with certain parasites on one coast but not the other or in one bivalve type but not another. Statistics that emphasized infection intensity found significant relationships between parasitism and contaminant body burden most often in East and Gulf coast oysters and West coast mussels and, in most cases, higher body burdens were associated with lower infection intensities. Statistics that emphasized prevalence also identified significant relationships most often in East and Gulf coast oysters and West coast mussels. In contrast to infection intensity, most significant results occurred because parasites were observed more often in locales characterized by higher contaminant body burdens. In no case was a parasite/ contaminant pair significant for both infection intensity and prevalence.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, Y., Powell, E. N., Wade, T. L., Presley, B. J., & Sericano, J.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Y||Powell, EN||Wade, TL||Presley, BJ||Sericano, J

publication date

  • January 1998