Parasitism is considered a major selective force in natural host populations. Infections can decrease host condition and vigour, and potentially influence, for example, host population dynamics and behavior such as mate choice. We studied parasite infections of two common marine fish species, the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus) and the common goby (Pomatoschistus microps), in the brackish water Northern Baltic Sea. We were particularly interested in the occurrence of parasite taxa located in central sensory organs, such as eyes, potentially affecting fish behavior and mate choice. We found that both fish species harbored parasite communities dominated by taxa transmitted to fish through aquatic invertebrates. Infections also showed significant spatiotemporal variation. Trematodes in the eyes were very few in some locations, but infection levels were higher among females than males, suggesting differences in exposure or resistance between the sexes. To test between these hypotheses, we experimentally exposed male and female sand gobies to infection with the eye fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum. These trials showed that the fish became readily infected and females had higher parasite numbers, supporting higher susceptibility of females. Eye fluke infections also caused high cataract intensities among the fish in the wild. Our results demonstrate the potential of these parasites to influence host condition and visual abilities, which may have significant implications for survival and mate choice in goby populations.
|Julkaisu||Ecology and Evolution|
|DOI - pysyväislinkit|
|Tila||Julkaistu - 2018|
|OKM-julkaisutyyppi||A1 Julkaistu artikkeli, soviteltu|