, Volume 96, Issue 3, pp 431–438 | Cite as

Age-dependent effects of parasites on anti-predator responses in two New Zealand freshwater fish

  • Robert Poulin
Original Papers


Parasites of all kinds affect the behaviour of their hosts, often making them more susceptible to predators. The associated loss in expected future reproductive success of infected hosts will vary among individuals, with younger ones having more lose than older ones. For this reason, young hosts would benefit more by opposing the effects of parasites than old ones. In a laboratory study, the effects of the trematode Telogaster opisthorchis on the anti-predator responses of the upland bully (Gobiomorphus breviceps) and of the common river galaxias (Galaxias vulgaris) were examined in relation to fish age. In a bully population where parasites were very abundant, the magnitude of the fish's anti-predator responses decreased as the number of parasites per fish increased, and this effect was significantly more pronounced in age 2 + and, to a lesser extent, age 3 + fish than in age 1 + fish. In another bully population where parasites were 10 times less abundant, similar effects were noticeable but not significant, whereas no effects of parasites on the responses of galaxiids to predators were apparent. Differences in the abundance of parasites and in their sites of infection in fish may explain the variability among host populations or species. However, in the bully population with high parasite abundance, parasitism has age-dependent effects on responses to predators, providing some support for the prediction that young fish with high expected future reproductive success invest more energy into opposing the effects of parasites than do older fish.

Key words

Parasitism Trematodes Anti-predator responses Age dependence New Zealand fish 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Poulin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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