Folia Parasitologica, vol. 55 (2008), issue 2

Folia Parasitologica 55[2] 141-149 (2008) | 10.14411/fp.2008.019

Differential host utilisation by different life history stages of the fish ectoparasite Argulus foliaceus (Crustacea: Branchiura)

Peter D. Walker1,2, Jack E. Harris1, Gerardvander Velde2,3, Sjoerd E. Wendelaar Bonga2
1 School of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
2 Department of Animal Ecology and Ecophysiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3 National Museum of Natural History, Naturalis, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA, Leiden, The Netherlands

In this study we examine differences in the occurrence of life history stages of the destructive fish ectoparasite Argulus foliaceus (L., 1758) on eight fish species (stickleback, rudd, roach, gudgeon, bream, tench, crucian carp and common carp) sampled from a mixed-species recreational fishing lake on nine occasions during late spring and summer. Total numbers of A. foliaceus, as well as the number of larval, juvenile and adult parasite stages, from each fish were recorded along with the fish species. Lice generally exhibited an aggregated distribution approximating a negative binomial distribution. Significant differences in the prevalence, intensity and intensity frequency distribution were observed between life history stages and between host species. In general, all life history stages of A. foliaceus exhibited an over-dispersed distribution. However, larval lice did show some degree of aggregation particularly within the stickleback samples. Infection data for parasite larval stages suggested that sticklebacks are more likely to be infected than other host species. For adult lice, however, carp appeared to be the main host. We propose that A. foliaceus infection characteristics are predominantly determined by the level of host exposure to the parasite and its life history stages (larval, juvenile and adult) rather than by an innate difference in host susceptibility related to individual host factors such as immune responses. We conclude that host exposure is determined by the parasite-host behavioural interplay related to species-specific ecology and behavioural traits such as microhabitat preference and normal swimming speed.

Keywords: Argulus, ectoparasite, fish, host-choice, specificity

Received: January 18, 2008; Accepted: March 28, 2008; Published: June 1, 2008


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