Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Effects of Asian Tapeworm on Mohave Tui Chub

September 2002 - September 2007


Participating Agencies

  • Cooperative Research Unit Program

Distribution of the introduced Asian tapeworm Bothriocephalus achelognathii in the southwestern United States is rapidly increasing. Reports from the mid 1980’s first documented the tapeworm in fishes, most commonly cyprinids, of the Grand Canyon and associated tributaries. From 1995 to the present, the Asian tapeworm has appeared in other rivers in Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. Despite the potential for this parasite to harm native fish populations and its explosive spread into new areas, very little is known about its effects on wild fish populations in the United States. The Asian tapeworm has been responsible for mass mortalities of fish in both cultured and wild populations in Europe. The tapeworm usually kills the host though blockage of the intestine or severe damage to the intestinal walls. Mortality of infected common carp in Russian ponds approached 90%. Cyprinids are the largest group of threatened and endangered fishes in both the Southwest and the United States. Cyprinid fishes are very susceptible to infection by the Asian tapeworm. Of those species exposed to Asian tapeworm in a southeastern United States study, small cyprinids living in warm waters had lowest survivorship. Most native cyprinids in the southwestern United States are small, and are living in small streams where water temperatures can be high. If the history of Asian tapeworm infestations in other areas repeats itself, mortality of cyprinids in many southwestern streams could be significant. We have three objectives for our study: (1) to examine the effects of the Asian tapeworm on the growth and survival of Mohave tui chub by themselves; (2) to examine the effects of the Asian tapeworm on the interactions between mosquitofish and Mohave tui chub; and (3) to examine the population dynamics of Asian tapeworm in Mohave tui chub inhabiting spring systems of the Mohave desert. This information will be useful not only to southwestern biologists, but others in North America facing potential Asian tapeworm infestations. These tests were conducted at the University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station. The student graduated spring 2007. The final report was completed in 2008 and the results are currently being submitted for publication. Two articles are in press as of fall, 2010, one with California Fish and Game and the other with the North American Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.

Research Publications Publication Date
Archdeacon, T.P., A. Iles, J. Kline, and S. A. Bonar. 2010. Asian Fish Tapeworm Bothriocephalus acheilognathi in the Desert Southwestern United States. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 22:274–279. | Abstract December 2010
Archdeacon, T. P., and S. A. Bonar. 2010. Intraspecific predation in endangered Mohave tui chub. California Fish and Game 96(3):213-215 October 2010