A total of 63,451 fish, representing 39 species, was collected from 176 foraging sites used by ciconiiform wading birds in peninsular Florida (USA) and examined for larvae of Eustrongylides ignotus. Infected fish were identified from 30 (17%) of the sites, all of which had been altered by human disturbance such as removal of sediment to construct ditches and dikes, improve water flow, or increase storage capacity and had a history of receiving anthropogenic nutrients such as sewage effluent, urban runoff, or agricultural runoff. The mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and several species of sunfish (Centrarchidae) were the most important intermediate hosts. Infected fish were not collected at any of the unaltered sites. A total of 10,508 oligochaetes (representing 36 species) was identified from 22 sites that had fish infected with E. ignotus and 36 sites where no infected fish were collected. None of the oligochaetes was infected with larvae of E. ignotus. Immature tubificids without hair setae (probably Limnodrilus sp.), Dero digitata, and L. hoffmeisteri were the most abundant oligochaetes at sites where infected fish occurred, making up 78% of the total collected. Compared to unaltered sites, altered sites were characterized by higher mean densities of fish and oligochaetes; surface waters with decreased dissolved oxygen and increased total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll-a; sediments with higher soil oxygen demand and total phosphorus; larger grain sizes; and higher percentage emergent vegetation and grasses.
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Vol. 38 • No. 3