Denholm SJ, Norman R, Hoyle A, Shinn A & Taylor NGH (2013) Reproductive Trade-Offs May Moderate the Impact of Gyrodactylus salaris in Warmer Climates. PLoS ONE, 8 (10), Art. No.: e78909. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078909
Gyrodactylus salaris is a notifiable freshwater ectoparasite of salmonids. Its primary host is Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), upon which infections can cause death, and have led to massive declines in salmon numbers in Norway, where the parasite is widespread. Different strains of S. salar vary in their susceptibility, with Atlantic strains (such as those found in Norway) exhibiting no resistance to the parasite, and Baltic strains demonstrating an innate resistance sufficient to regulate parasite numbers on the host causing it to either die out or persist at a low level. In this study, Leslie matrix and compartmental models were used to generate data that demonstrated the population growth of G. salaris on an individual host is dependent on the total number of offspring per parasite, its longevity and the timing of its births. The data demonstrated that the key factor determining the rate of G. salaris population growth is the time at which the parasite first gives birth, with rapid birth rate giving rise to large population size. Furthermore, it was shown that though the parasite can give birth up to four times, only two births are required for the population to persist as long as the first birth occurs before a parasite is three days old. As temperature is known to influence the timing of the parasite's first birth, greater impact may be predicted if introduced to countries with warmer climates than Norway, such as the UK and Ireland which are currently recognised to be free of G. salaris. However, the outputs from the models developed in this study suggest that temperature induced trade-offs between the total number of offspring the parasite gives birth to and the first birth timing may prevent increased population growth rates over those observed in Norway.
PLoS ONE: Volume 8, Issue 10