Trematodes of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: emerging patterns of diversity and richness in coral reef fishes

Cribb, T H and Bott, N J and Bray, R A and McNamara, M K A and Miller, T L and Nolan, M J and Cutmore, S C (2014) Trematodes of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: emerging patterns of diversity and richness in coral reef fishes. International Journal for Parasitology, 44 (12). pp. 929-939.

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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef holds the richest array of marine life found anywhere in Australia, including a diverse and fascinating parasite fauna. Members of one group, the trematodes, occur as sexually mature adult worms in almost all Great Barrier Reef bony fish species. Although the first reports of these parasites were made 100 years ago, the fauna has been studied systematically for only the last 25 years. When the fauna was last reviewed in 1994 there were 94 species known from the Great Barrier Reef and it was predicted that there might be 2,270 in total. There are now 326 species reported for the region, suggesting that we are in a much improved position to make an accurate prediction of true trematode richness. Here we review the current state of knowledge of the fauna and the ways in which our understanding of this fascinating group is changing. Our best estimate of the true richness is now a range, 1,100–1,800 species. However there remains considerable scope for even these figures to be incorrect given that fewer than one-third of the fish species of the region have been examined for trematodes. Our goal is a comprehensive characterisation of this fauna, and we outline what work needs to be done to achieve this and discuss whether this goal is practically achievable or philosophically justifiable.