Grouping facilitates avoidance of parasites by fish
Mikheev, V. N., Pasternak, A. F., Taskinen, J., & Valtonen, T. (2013). Grouping facilitates avoidance of parasites by fish. Parasites and Vectors, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-6-301
Published inParasites and Vectors
DisciplineAkvaattiset tieteetAquatic Sciences
© 2013 Mikheev et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Background. Parasite distribution is often highly heterogeneous, and intensity of infection depends, among other things, on how well hosts can avoid areas with a high concentration of parasites. We studied the role of fish behaviour in avoiding microhabitats with a high infection risk using Oncorhynchus mykiss and cercariae of Diplostomum pseudospathaceum as a model. Spatial distribution of parasites in experimental tanks was highly heterogeneous. We hypothesized that fish in groups are better at recognizing a parasitized area and avoiding it than solitary fish. Methods. Number of fish, either solitary or in groups of 5, was recorded in different compartments of a shuttle tank where fish could make a choice between areas with different risk of being infected. Intensity of infection was assessed and compared with the number of fish recorded in the compartment with parasites and level of fish motility. Results. Both solitary fish and fish in groups avoided parasitized areas, but fish in groups avoided it more strongly and thus acquired significantly fewer parasites than solitary fish. Prevalence of infection among grouped and solitary fish was 66 and 92 %, respectively, with the mean abundance two times higher in the solitary fish. Between-individual variation in the number of parasites per fish was higher in the “groups” treatment (across all individuals) than in the “solitary” treatment. Avoidance behaviour was more efficient when fish were allowed to explore the experimental arena prior to parasite exposure. High motility of fish was shown to increase the acquisition of D. pseudospathaceum. Conclusion. Fish in groups better avoided parasitized habitat, and acquired significantly fewer parasites than solitary fish. We suggest that fish in groups benefit from information about parasites gained from other members of a group. Grouping behaviour may be an efficient mechanism of parasite avoidance, together with individual behaviour and immune responses of fishes. Avoidance of habitats with a high parasite risk can be an important factor contributing to the evolution and maintenance of grouping behaviour in fish. ...
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2013 Mikheev et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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