Reelfoot Lake parasite studies highlighted by UTM professor

Reelfoot Lake parasite studies highlighted by UTM professor

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:24 pm

The Messenger 12.14.11

As part of the celebration of Reelfoot Lake’s bicentennial, University of Tennessee at Martin biology lecturer Dr. Mike Turner has written a history of zoological research originating from the Reelfoot Lake region.
According to the author, Tennessee, unlike other southeastern states, has had relatively few of its ecological communities subjected to parasitological studies, with most of these based in and around Reelfoot Lake.
These studies began 130 years ago with the collection of an unattached turtle leech taken from Indian Creek near the former Idlewild Hotel. Other early efforts involved public health workers investigating malaria and the mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
Later, traditional natural history studies, primarily involving helminth (worm) parasites, were undertaken and were joined by recent comparative molecular work. Ninety reports of parasitology research, authored or co-authored by 72 investigators and published in 19 different journals, have originated from the region.
Included in these reports were descriptions of 62 new parasitic worm species recovered from animal hosts inhabiting the region. Six of the new species carry the specific names reelfooti or reelfootensis. Additionally, distribution records for 228 parasite species — including nine protozoans, 162 helminths, four leeches and 53 arthropods — were reported for the region.
Turner’s article, entitled “A History of Parasitological Field Studies Originating From the Reelfoot Lake Region of Tennessee and Kentucky,” appeared in a recent issue of The Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science.
Electronic copies may be obtained at no charge from UT Martin’s institutional repository), or by emailing the author at

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