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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Effects of fish species composition on Diphyllobothrium spp. infections in brown trout - is three-spined stickleback a key species?

Kuhn, J. A.; Frainer, A.; Knudsen, R.; Kristoffersen, R.; Amundsen, P-A


Subarctic populations of brown trout (Salmo trutta) are often heavily infected with cestodes of the genus Diphyllobothrium, assumedly because of their piscivorous behaviour. This study explores possible associations between availability of fish prey and Diphyllobothrium spp. infections in lacustrine trout populations. Trout in (i) allopatry (group T); (ii) sympatry with Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) (group TC); and (iii) sympatry with charr and three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) (group TCS) were contrasted. Mean abundance and intensity of Diphyllobothrium spp. were higher in group TCS compared to groups TC and T. Prevalence, however, was similarly higher in groups TCS and TC compared to group T. Zero-altered negative binomial modelling identified the lowest probability of infection in group T and similar probabilities of infection in groups TC and TCS, whereas the highest intensity was predicted in group TCS. The most infected trout were from the group co-occurring with stickleback (TCS), possibly due to a higher availability of fish prey. In conclusion, our study demonstrates elevated Diphyllobothrium spp. infections in lacustrine trout populations where fish prey are available and suggests that highly available and easily caught stickleback prey may play a key role in the transmission of Diphyllobothrium spp. parasite larvae.


Gasterosteus aculeatus; piscivory; Salmo trutta; salmonids; trophically transmitted parasites

Published in

Journal of Fish Diseases
2016, Volume: 39, number: 11, pages: 1313-1323
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

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