First record of Lernaea cyprinacea (Copepoda: Lernaeidae) on an imperilled endemic anabantid, Sandelia bainsii (Teleostei: Anabantidae), from the Eastern Cape province, South Africa
Lernaea cyprinacea Linnaeus, 1758, the anchor worm, is reported parasitising a highly threatened anabantid fish, Sandelia bainsii, which is endemic to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Although L. cyprinacea was first recorded in South Africa in 1984, it has, until now, never been reported from any river systems south of the OrangeVaal River system. We generated mitochondrial 18S rRNA sequences for copepods found on the dorsal surface of a specimen of S. bainsii that was collected on 15 May 2018 from the Zolani River, a tributary of the Buffalo River system in the Amatolo-Winterberg freshwater ecoregion. These copepods were a genetic match to L. cyprinacea. This discovery represents a new locality, as well as a new host record for L. cyprinacea in South Africa. As severe infestations of L. cyprinacea may have potential pathological effects on native fish, its discovery in the Eastern Cape province represents a serious emerging threat to aquatic biodiversity in the Amatolo-Winterberg freshwater ecoregion and the adjacent Cape Fold Ecoregion, which are both global hotspots of imperilled endemic fish.
Keywords: Buffalo River system, conservation, invasive parasite, range extension