Parasite infection directly impacts escape response and stress levels in fish

Allan, Bridie J.M., Illing, Björn, Fakan, Eric P., Narvaez, Pauline, Grutter, Alexandra S., Sikkel, Paul C., McClure, Eva C., Rummer, Jodie L., and McCormick, Mark (2020) Parasite infection directly impacts escape response and stress levels in fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 223 (16). jeb230904.

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Parasites can account for a substantial proportion of the biomass in marine communities. As such, parasites play a significant ecological role in ecosystem functioning via host interactions. Unlike macropredators, such as large piscivores, micropredators, such as parasites, rarely cause direct mortality. Rather, micropredators impose an energetic tax, thus significantly affecting host physiology and behaviour via sublethal effects. Recent research suggests that infection by gnathiid isopods (Crustacea) causes significant physiological stress and increased mortality rates. However, it is unclear whether infection causes changes in the behaviours that underpin escape responses or changes in routine activity levels. Moreover. it is poorly understood whether the cost of gnathiid infection manifests as an increase in cortisol. To investigate this, we examined the effect of experimental gnathiid infection on the swimming and escape performance of a newly settled coral reef fish and whether infection led to increased cortisol levels. We found that micropredation by a single gnathiid caused fast-start escape performance and swimming behaviour to significantly decrease and cortisol levels to double. Fast-start escape performance is an important predictor of recruit survival in the wild. As such, altered fitness-related traits and short-term stress, perhaps especially during early life stages, may result in large scale changes in the number of fish that successfully recruit to adult populations.

Item ID: 64893
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-9145
Keywords: Escape performance, Fish behaviour, Micropredator, Predator-prey interactions
Copyright Information: © 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, National Science Foundation (NSF), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Projects and Grants: ARC EI140100117, ARC A00105175, ARC A19937078, ARC FEL010G, ARC DP0557058, ARC DP120102415, NSF OCE-724 1536794, DGF IL-220/2-1
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2020 07:36
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180503 Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in marine environments @ 100%
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