Faculty Advisor

Timothy C. Sparkes (DePaul), Isaure de Buron (College of Charleston)


The parasitic copepod, Naobranchia lizae, is often found within the gill arches of the striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, in the Charleston Harbor Estuarine System of South Carolina. The parasite is relatively common, but little is known about its early stages of development. In order to describe the developmental stages and pattern of morphological development, 221 female N. lizae that were collected between February 2002 and May 2003 were used. Using variation in morphological characters (maxilla, trunk), these parasites were assigned to developmental stages (juvenile, subadult, adult). A small number of the males (three ‘dwarf’ males) were also found attached to the females. In females, size measurements revealed that the maxilla, which plays a role in initial attachment to the gill, was generally larger than the trunk in the juvenile stage. In contrast, the trunk, which is associated with egg production, was larger than the maxilla in the adult stage. This is the first study to describe the pattern of growth of N. lizae in nature and this description should provide useful information for future studies on this common host-parasite relationship.