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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project


Biological Sciences


Coevolution, Phylogeny, Parasites-Phylogeny, Phylogenetics, Parasites, Marine mammals-Parasites


Marine mammal parasitology is a relatively understudied subject. Very little is known about the nematode parasites that infect these organisms, save those parasites that ha a direct impact on human health. Thus, developing an understanding of the basic biology and behavior of these parasites is of great importance. Controlling parasitic infections, especially those of endangered species, is of utmost importance for conservation. Currently, very little molecular sequence data exists for these organisms. This work focuses on generating molecular data on several morphologically identified parasites: Acanthocheilonema spirocauda, Dipetalonema odendhali, Otostrongylus circumlitis, Halocercus delphini, Anisakidae spp, Pseudoterranova spp, Crassicauda spp, Crassicauda boopis, Stenurus minor, as well as several tentative 'heart worms' harvested from various stranded marine mammals. Beyond generating sequences, the data was combined with already existing sequences in GenBank to construct phylogenies of these intriguing parasites. Additionally, host phylogenies were constructed to examine in parallel with parasite phylogenies. The congruence of these phylogenies, or degree of coevolution, was then assessed using the statistical method PACo (Procrustes Approach to Cophylogeny, Balbuena 2013). The results reveal significant coevolutionary relationships, some with serious conservational consequences. In addition work was begun on amplifying, sequencing, and annotating the mitochondrial genomes of these organisms with the hope of updating species identifications and phylogenetic analyses in the future.




105 p. : illustrations (some color). Honors Project-Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 96-98)