The effects of parasites on the early life stages of a damselfish

Sun, D., Blomberg, S.P., Cribb, T.H., McCormick, M.I., and Grutter, A.S. (2012) The effects of parasites on the early life stages of a damselfish. Coral Reefs, 31 (4). pp. 1065-1075.

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Early life history traits, such as larval growth, influence the success of coral reef fish in the transition from the larval to the juvenile life phase. Few studies, however, have examined the relationship between parasites and growth in the early life history stages of such fishes. This study examined how parasite prevalence (% infected) and load, and the relationship between parasite presence and fish growth, differed among life stages of the damselfish Pomacentrus amboinensis. Parasite prevalence decreased significantly between the larval stage, which was sampled immediately before settlement on the reef (97 %) and recently settled juveniles (60 %); prevalence was also high for 4-month-old juveniles (90 %), 7-month-old juveniles (100 %) and adult fish (100 %). Total numbers of parasites per fish decreased dramatically (fourfold) between larval and recently settled fish, and then increased in the older stages to levels similar to those observed in larvae, but they did so more gradually than did prevalence. One explanation for these patterns is that heavily infected larvae were preferentially removed from the population during or soon after settlement. Daily fish growth, determined from otolith increments, revealed that growth did not differ between parasitised and non-parasitised larval fish, whereas recently settled fish that were parasitised had faster growth; these parasitised recently settled fish also displayed faster growth prior to settlement. These data provide evidence that parasites may explain some of the variation in growth and survival observed among coral reef fishes after settlement and thereby have a greater impact on population dynamics than previously understood.

Item ID: 22453
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: parasites, otolith growth, fish larvae, settlement, coral reef ecology
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2013 22:24
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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