, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 155-160

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

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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.