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Effects of the swimbladder parasite Anguillicola crassus on the migration of European silver eels Anguilla anguilla in the Baltic Sea

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In a mark–recapture study in 2006, migrating European Anguilla anguilla silver eels were caught, tagged and released in the Baltic Sea and recaptures in commercial pound nets examined for possible effects on migration of infection with the swimbladder parasite Anguillicola crassus. The overall recapture rate was 36%. The prevalence of infection was lowest at the northernmost sampling site. There were no significant differences between infected and uninfected A. anguilla in condition indices, body fat content and estimated migration speeds. Parasite infection intensity levels were significantly negatively correlated with times and distances covered between release and recapture, but did not correlate with migration speed. It appears that more heavily infected A. anguilla were relatively more vulnerable to recapture in pound nets. It is hypothesized that parasite-induced damage to the swimbladder inhibited vertical migrations and infected A. anguilla tended to migrate in shallower coastal waters, relatively close to the shore.

Keywords: parasite incidence; parasite infestation; parasite prevalence; swimming speed; tagging experiment; vertical migration

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Swedish Board of Fisheries, Institute of Freshwater Research, SE-178 93 Drottningholm, Sweden 2: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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