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Parasite-induced alterations of host behaviour in a riverine fish: the effects of glochidia on host dispersal

Authors

  • Pavel Horký,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
    • Correspondence: Pavel Horký, Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamýcká 129, Prague CZ 165 21, Czech Republic.

      E-mail: pavel.horky.r@gmail.com

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  • Karel Douda,

    1. Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
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  • Matúš Maciak,

    1. Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
    2. Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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  • Libor Závorka,

    1. Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
    2. Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Animal Ecology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
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  • Ondřej Slavík

    1. Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
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Summary

  1. Parasitic species can affect host behaviour in various ways. Freshwater mussels of the superfamily Unionoidea have a glochidia larva that is parasitic on fish. Our aim was to evaluate whether fish exposed to glochidia have distinct behaviour that could affect the upstream dispersal of the parasite.
  2. Many freshwater mussels are highly endangered, and understanding the relationships with their hosts is important for their conservation. However, research on the behavioural effects of parasitism on fish host activity and/or the upstream dispersal of mussel larvae in nature has received little attention.
  3. Specifically, we examined a fish (the chub, Squalius cephalus) that hosts the larval stage of a freshwater bivalve (Anodonta anatina) and investigated alterations in host behaviour induced by the parasite. One laboratory and two field experiments were conducted using passive integrated transponder systems and radio-telemetry.
  4. Infected fish were generally less active in the laboratory and, in the field, dispersed less far upstream. Moreover, radio-telemetry revealed a habitat shift by the infected fish, which were found further from the riverbank.
  5. We suggest that behavioural changes in the fish that are induced by glochidia do not facilitate the long-distance dispersal of the mussel but rather cause reductions in fish activity and slight habitat shifts. Possible consequences of such behavioural alterations are discussed.
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