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Conspicuous behaviour of Fundulus heteroclitus associated with high digenean metacercariae gill abundances

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Fundulus heteroclitus from six sites throughout the Hackensack Meadowlands District in northern NJ, U.S.A., were examined. Differences in behaviour (surfacing, conspicuousness and activity) were compared to gill infection intensity. Fish from populations infected with >1500 digenean metacercariae of Ascocotyle phagicola diminuta and Echinochasmus schwartzi, spent significantly more time at the water surface and exhibited significantly more conspicuous behaviour (e.g. jerking) than fish from less parasitized populations. This more conspicuous behaviour has the potential to increase trophic transmission of the parasite to its definitive wading-bird host.
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Keywords: behaviour; mummichog; parasite–host interaction; trematodes

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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