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Biology of the Polyclad Prosthiostomum (Prosthiostomum) sp., a New Coral Parasite from Hawaii

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Title:Biology of the Polyclad Prosthiostomum (Prosthiostomum) sp., a New Coral Parasite from Hawaii
Authors:Jokiel, Paul L.
Townsley, Sidney J.
Date Issued:Oct 1974
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Jokiel PL, Townsley SJ. 1974. Biology of the polyclad Prosthiostomum (Prosthiostomum) sp., a new coral parasite from Hawaii. Pac Sci 28(4): 361-373.
Abstract:Prosthiostomum (Prosthiostomum) sp., a species of polyclad flatworm
yet to be described, is an obligate ectoparasitic symbiont of the hermatypic
coral Montipora. Field and laboratory studies have demonstrated an intimate
parasite/host association involving the utilization of host corals as food and substrate
by the parasite. Development of larvae is within the immediate host environment;
consequently, infections are produced through direct infection.
Various aspects of the biology, such as the developmental history, feeding habits,
and parasite/host response to thermal environment, are reported. It is concluded that
all aspects of the life history of this species show adaptations toward host specificity.
This represents a rare example of true coral parasitism since most animals known to
feed on coral tissues are considered to be facultative predators. The optimal thermal
environment for the parasite appears to coincide with that of the coral host, a
phenomenon which may tend to produce a seasonally stable parasite/host interaction.
The parasite appears to become a serious coral pest only in disrupted
systems such as artificial laboratory situations or in the polluted sections of
Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 28, Number 4, 1974

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