Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Director

David T. Gauthier

Committee Member

Holly Gaff

Committee Member

Ashley Haines


Back Bay is an oligohaline coastal bay in Southeast Virginia, USA. The Oregon Inlet along the Outer Banks of North Carolina is the only significant salinity source to the Bay via the Pamlico and Currituck Sounds of North Carolina. Today Back Bay is considered a brackish ecosystem with salinity of 2004, leeches have been observed in the oral cavities of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) in Back Bay. Leeches (Myzobdella lugubris) have previously been documented in the oral cavities of largemouth bass in the Currituck Sound. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) conducted an experimental Largemouth Bass restocking effort in hopes of increasing the Largemouth Bass population. The stocking was deemed successful and as a result VDGIF continued to restock in 2012, 2013, and 2014. After four years of stocking Largemouth Bass, VDGIF has indicated the population has not stabilized in the system as judged by yearly community fish sampling in Back Bay. This is worrisome because there may be a factor that is preventing growth of the Largemouth Bass population, and this raises the issue of whether restocking of Largemouth Bass should be continued. The purpose of this study is to determine the biology and impacts of oral leech infestations on the Largemouth Bass. From this study, we intend to determine if the leeches are inflicting harm on the Largemouth Bass.


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