The objectives of this study were to (1) describe the host range for 6 tetraphyllidean species and quantify their host specificity using 5 specificity indices; (2) determine the role of morphological determinants in the host specificity of tetraphyllideans by comparing villar and bothridial measurements of species examined herein; and (3) determine the role of a physiological component in the host specificity of tetraphyllideans by exposing tetraphyllideans to blood sera from different fish species and other solutions. Our results indicate that Echeneibothrium dubium abyssorum (ex Amblyraja radiata), Echeneibothrium canadensis (ex A. radiata), and Zyxibothrium kamienae (ex Malacoraja senta) exhibit the highest degree of specificity, followed by Echeneibothrium vernetae (ex Leucoraja erinacea and Leucoraja ocellata), Pseudanthobothrium hanseni (ex A. radiata and M. senta), and Pseudanthobothrium purtoni (ex Leucoraja erinacea and L. ocellata). However, these results vary based on the specificity index used. Compatible bothridial and villar measurements indicate that there is no morphological determinant of host specificity but that there is a morphological determinant to attachment site specificity. Our data indicate that attachment site specificity may also be phylogenetically determined. Additionally, the exposure of parasites to blood sera from various hosts confirms that host specificity in this system has a physiological determinant. Therefore, host specificity in this system is determined, at least in part, by physiological factors, whereas attachment site specificity is an extension of host specificity and is phylogenetically determined.
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