Temporal stability of sea louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis Krøyer populations on Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. of wild, farm and hybrid parentage
Atlantic salmon salmo salar smolts of wild, hybrid and farmed parentage were individually tagged then reared in a sea cage for 8 months. The fish were sampled three times during this period. On all occasions, farmed Atlantic salmon displayed the highest abundance and density of sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis, whilst no significant differences were observed between hybrid and wild Atlantic salmon. Percentage variation between the lowest and highest infected groups was as high as 175 and 144% for L. salmonis abundance and density respectively (sample 2). The temporal stability of interindividual sea lice infection levels was investigated pair‐wise between samples using correlation (sample 1 v. 2, 1 v. 3 and 2 v. 3). When calculated using sea louse abundance, correlations ranged from r2 = 0·11, P < 0·01 to r2 = 0·39, P < 0·001, but, when the effects of fish size were controlled for by converting abundance to density, all correlations were < r2 = 0·1. Therefore, these data indicate that a fish‘s relative infection level in one sample was a weak predictor of its relative infection level in another sample. This suggests that identification of individual Atlantic salmon that display reduced susceptibility to sea lice, may be problematic.
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