Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

The doors are closed, but the windows are open: Fish parasites bypassing Australia’s biosecurity measures (#119)

Shokoofeh Shamsi 1
  1. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

Australia's freshwater systems are globally important for their biodiversity however they face numerous challenges and one of the worst extinction records in the world. Australia’s biodiversity conservation plans usually are not inclusive of parasites nor on their impacts on freshwater fish populations. Parasites play a key role in shaping community structures through their effects on trophic interactions, food webs, competition, and keystone species. With an increased decline in the relevant expertise in Australia, leading to limited investment in research on parasites of native freshwater fish species, it is likely that many parasites will remain ignored in broader conservation management discussions. In this presentation, evidence on the impact of introduced invasive species on Australia’s iconic freshwater fish are provided. Despite limited resources, in the last five years research has found:

-new species, previously unknown to scientists,

-new parasites previously not reported in Australia,

-host switch of invasive parasites from introduced animals to native species, and

-evidence of parasites spill over and spill back.

These findings suggest that many parasites still pass Australia’s strict biosecurity border, successfully establish themselves in Australia and impact population of Australian animals, many in vulnerable status.