Parasites as indicators of individual feeding specialization in Arctic charr during winter in northern Norway


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The relationship between infection with the food-transmitted parasites Diphyllobothrium dendriticum, D. ditremum (Cestoda) and Cystidicola farionis (Nematoda) and prey selection was studied in individual Arctic charr from Lake Takvatn, northern Norway. There was no correlation between parasites transmitted throughout prey organisms from benthic habitats (amphipods) and pelagic habitats (copepods). A strong relationship between infection with a parasite species and the corresponding intermediate host from the stomach content of individual charr, indicated an individual feeding specialization. Independent of size, charr specialized on the intermediate hosts of all three parasite species. Some charr maintained this specialization on specific prey items throughout the winter period. These parasite species are considered to be useful indicators of past prey selection.