Skip to main content

Identification of Pomphorhynchus in English Rivers - ** this project has been concluded **

Acanthocephalans, commonly known as spiny headed worms, are intestinal parasites of fish that use amphipods as their intermediate host. In the UK, greatest attention has been given to Pomphorhynchus laevis, which matures in freshwater fish such as chub and barbel, and cycles through Gammarus pulex. Recent taxonomic studies have suggested there are two closely related species of Pomphorhynchus, P. laevis and P. tereticollis. This raised uncertainty over the identity, distribution and impact of these parasites in our rivers. Further studies were needed to clarify the status of this parasite in the UK to improve understanding of parasite diversity and underpin regulatory controls to protect wild fish populations. 

During 2017, EA National Fisheries Services conducted a partnership project to assess the diversity and distribution of the parasite Pomphorhynchus, engaging with citizen scientists such as ARMI volunteers to help them sample the parasite. The results have been fantastic! Take a look at the final project report HERE.

You can also click HERE for an overview of the project and how citizen scientists were able to participate while it was running.