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Body Condition Peaks at Intermediate Parasite Loads in the Common Bully Gobiomorphus cotidianus

AutorMaceda-Veiga, Alberto; Green, Andy J. ; Poulin, Robert; Lagrue, Clément
Fecha de publicación2016
EditorPublic Library of Science
CitaciónPLoS ONE, 11(12): e0168992. (2016)
ResumenMost ecologists and conservationists perceive parasitic infections as deleterious for the hosts. Their effects, however, depend on many factors including host body condition, parasite load and the life cycle of the parasite. More research into how multiple parasite taxa affect host body condition is required and will help us to better understand host-parasite coevolution. We used body condition indices, based on mass-length relationships, to test the effects that abundances and biomasses of six parasite taxa (five trematodes, Apatemon sp., Tylodelphys sp., Stegodexamene anguillae, Telogaster opisthorchis, Coitocaecum parvum, and the nematode Eustrongylides sp.) with different modes of transmission have on the body condition of their intermediate or final fish host, the common bully Gobiomorphus cotidianus in New Zealand. We used two alternative body condition methods, the Scaled Mass Index (SMI) and Fulton's condition factor. General linear and hierarchical partitioning models consistently showed that fish body condition varied strongly across three lakes and seasons, and that most parasites did not have an effect on the two body condition indices. However, fish body condition showed a highly significant humpbacked relationship with the total abundance of all six parasite taxa, mostly driven by Apatemon sp. and S. anguillae, indicating that the effects of these parasites can range from positive to negative as abundance increases. Such a response was also evident in models including total parasite biomass. Our methodological comparison supports the SMI as the most robust mass-length method to examine the effects of parasitic infections on fish body condition, and suggests that linear, negative relationships between host condition and parasite load should not be assumed.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168992
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