A survey of the parasites of freshwater turtles in the Concho Valley



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Freshwater turtles are important members in any aquatic system as they help control aquatic vegetation and readily act as scavengers, which helps water quality and overall productivity of the ecosystem. Freshwater turtle populations have been on the decline in recent years. This decline is a direct result of turtles being harvested for various commercial activities, as well as habitat destruction, climate change, and disease. Studying the parasitic fauna within freshwater turtles could reveal insight into the diseases the turtles may face. The goal of this study is to report the parasite community within freshwater turtles in the Concho Valley. Six species of turtle were examined including Red-Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans, n=34), Texas Cooters (Pseudemys texana, n=17), Eastern Musk Turtles (Sternotherus odoratus, n=10), Texas Map Turtles (Graptemys versa, n=7), Spiny Softshells (Apalone spinifera, n=3), and Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina, n=2). From the turtles, one species of ectoparasite was recovered, Placobdella parasitica, and nine species of endoparasite were recovered: Neoechinorhynchus emydis, Neoechinorhynchus pseudemydis, Neoechinorhynchus emyditoides, Serpinema sp., Camallanus sp., Spiroxys sp., Falcaustra sp., Contracaecum sp., and Dracunculus sp. The prevalence and intensity of each parasite species is reported and compared among the aquatic systems, turtle species, turtle sexes, and between gravid and non-gravid female turtles. Neoechinorhynchus emyditoides prevalence was higher in P. texana (71%) than G. versa (14%). Camallanus sp. prevalence was higher in non-gravid females (71%) than gravid females (33%). Falcaustra sp. prevalence was higher in females (24%) than males (5%). This study supports the previous literature of freshwater turtle parasites in Texas and documents the first findings of these parasites of freshwater turtles in this region.



Freshwater turtles, parasites, red-eared sliders, Texas, Concho Valley, Texas cooters, Texas map turtles, spiny softshell, snapping turtle, eastern musk turtle, leech