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The effects of parasitism and body length on positioning within wild fish shoals

Ward, A. J. W., Hoare, D. J., Couzin, I. D. , Broom, M. & Krause, J. (2002). The effects of parasitism and body length on positioning within wild fish shoals. Journal Of Animal Ecology, 71(1), pp. 10-14. doi: 10.1046/j.0021-8790.2001.00571.x


The influence of body length and parasitism on the positioning behaviour of individuals in wild fish shoals was investigated by a novel means of capturing entire shoals of the banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus, Lesueur) using a grid-net that maintained the two-dimensional positions of individuals within shoals.

Fish in the front section of a shoal were larger than those in the rear.

Individuals parasitized by the digenean trematode (Crassiphiala bulboglossa, Haitsma) showed a tendency to occupy the front of shoals. Parasitized fish were also found more in peripheral positions than central ones in a significant number of shoals.

Shoal geometry was affected by the overall parasite prevalence of shoal members; shoals with high parasite prevalence displayed increasingly phallanx-like shoal formations, whereas shoals with low prevalence were more elliptical.

There was no relationship between body length and parasite abundance or prevalence in the fish population which suggests body length and parasite status are independent predictors of positioning behaviour.

Solitary individuals found outside shoals were both more likely to be parasitized and had higher parasite abundance than individuals engaged in shoaling.

Differences in the shoaling behaviour of parasitized and unparasitized fish are discussed in the context of the adaptive manipulation hypothesis.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
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