Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 155-160

First online:

Shoaling behaviour of sticklebacks infected with the microsporidian parasite, Glugea anomala

  • Ashley J. W. WardAffiliated withUniversity of LeedsDepartment of Biology, University of Leicester Email author 
  • , Alison J. DuffAffiliated withUniversity of Leeds
  • , Jens KrauseAffiliated withUniversity of Leeds
  • , Iain BarberAffiliated withInstitute of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Aberystwyth

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We compared the shoaling behaviour of three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, infected with the microsporidian, Glugea anomala, to that of non-infected conspecifics. Infected fish lost significantly more weight than non-infected fish during a period of food deprivation, suggesting a metabolic cost to parasitism. In binary shoal choice tests, non-infected test fish showed an association preference for a shoal of non-infected over a shoal of infected conspecifics; infected test fish displayed no preference. Infected fish, however, showed a higher overall tendency to shoal than non-parasitised fish. Furthermore, infected fish occupied front positions within a mixed school. We consider the behavioural differences between infected and uninfected fish in the context of their potential benefits to the fish hosts and the parasites.


Gasterosteus aculeatus schooling parasites energetics