Crabs, leeches and trypanosomes: an unholy trinity?

Willy Hemmingsen, P. A. Jansen, Kenneth MacKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The red king crab Paralilhodes camischaticus was deliberately introduced to the Barents Sea in the 1960s and 1970s from its native area in the North Pacific. The carapace of these crabs is a favoured substrate for the leech Johanssonia arctica to deposit its eggs, and the leech is a vector for a trypanosome blood parasite of marine fish, including cod. We examined cod for trypanosome infections during annual cruises along the coast of Finnmark in North Norway over three successive years from stations along a gradient of over 1000 km. In every year the level of trypanosome infection in cod was significantly highest in the area with the greatest density of king crabs. We propose the hypothesis that the burgeoning population of red king crabs in this area is indirectly responsible for increased transmission of trypanosomes to cod by promoting an increase in the population of the leech vector. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-339
Number of pages3
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • red king crabs-
  • leeches
  • trypanosomes
  • cod


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