Evol Ecol Res 17: 335-354 (2016)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Dynamics of parasite community during early ontogenesis
of marine threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus

E.V. Rybkina1, A.S. Demchuk1,2, D.L. Lajus2, T.S. Ivanova2, M.V. Ivanov2 and K.V. Galaktionov1,2

1Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg, Russia and  2St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia 

Correspondence: E.V. Rybkina, Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, Universitetskaya nab. 1, St. Petersburg 199034, Russia. email: onebat@yandex.ru


Hypothesis: Parasite infection of juvenile stickleback increases during their early ontogenesis owing to transmission from adults and other juveniles, as well as changes in diet.

Organisms: Threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) aged one week to two months, their ecto- and endoparasites, and their stomach contents.

Times and places: July to September 2012 and 2015; two locations in the Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea – Seldyanaya Inlet with dense seagrass beds and an unnamed lagoon in Sukhaya Salma Inlet.

Methods: Quantitative sampling of stickleback at 10 day intervals, and quantitative analysis of their parasites and stomach contents.

Results: As sticklebacks grew, their parasite load increased. We identified three size groups of stickleback that differ significantly in their parasite species composition and infection indices: hatchlings 7.0–8.5 mm long were infected with three parasite species (prevalence 43%); juveniles 9–11 mm harboured four or five species (100%); and juveniles 12–30 mm were infected by 12 species (100%). As stickleback grew, copepods played an increasing role in their diet, and infection with trematodes and cestodes rose accordingly.

Keywords: feeding, Gasterosteus aculeatus, juveniles, parasites, threespine stickleback, White Sea.

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