Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 1833–1847

Salmon Lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, Exhibit Specific Chemotactic Responses to Semiochemicals Originating from the Salmonid, Salmo salar


  • Gregor J. Devine
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Aberdeen
  • Anna Ingvarsdóttir
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Aberdeen
  • William Mordue
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Aberdeen
  • Alan W. Pike
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Aberdeen
  • John Pickett
    • Biological and Ecological Chemistry DepartmentIACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden
  • Ian Duce
    • Department of Life SciencesUniversity of Nottingham
  • A. Jennifer Mordue (Luntz)
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Aberdeen

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005592606682

Cite this article as:
Devine, G.J., Ingvarsdóttir, A., Mordue, W. et al. J Chem Ecol (2000) 26: 1833. doi:10.1023/A:1005592606682


Adult male salmon lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, displayed kinetic and rheotactic behavioral responses to seawater conditioned with the Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. The kinetic response was initiated by a range of skin, mucus, and flesh preparations from salmon and from a nonsalmonid, the turbot Scophthalmus maximus. Kinesis was quantified by digitally recording the movement of individual lice and by measuring both speed and distance traveled. A directional response, measured in Y-tube assays, was seen in the presence of salmon-conditioned water, but not of turbot-conditioned water. Thus, there is strong evidence that chemical signals are used by salmon lice to mediate host-finding behavior. It is hypothesized that, although salmon lice are excited by the presence of fish-derived semiochemicals, there is a salmonid-specific signal that mediates their positive rheotactic response to a host.

Salmonturbotsalmon liceLepeophtheirus salmonisbehaviorsemiochemicalskinesisrheotaxis

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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000