Parasitology Research

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 51–55 | Cite as

Diplostomum spathaceum metacercarial infection and colour change in salmonid fish

  • P. Rintamäki-Kinnunen
  • A. Karvonen
  • P. Anttila
  • E. T. Valtonen
Original Paper


Colour changes in two salmonid fish, the salmon (Salmo salar) and sea trout (S. trutta), were examined in relation to infection with the trematode Diplostomum spathaceum. This parasite had no effect on the rate of colour change in these fish, although species specific differences in colour adjustment times were observed. Increasing asymmetry in parasite numbers between the right and left eye, which could lead to the retention of vision in one eye, nevertheless tended to reduce the colour change time in salmon with moderate infection (P=0.08). This first experimental attempt to examine colour changes in fish in relation to eye fluke infections provides grounds for future investigations. The darker appearance of the heavily infected fish described in the literature suggests that a high parasite burden actually causes colour changes. We emphasise that detailed quantitative studies using fish with higher parasite loads, especially from the tail of the aggregated parasite distribution, are needed to describe these relationships in detail.


  1. Brown FAJr (1973) Chromatophores and colour change. In: Prosser CL (ed) Comparative animal physiology. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp 915–950Google Scholar
  2. Burrough RJ (1978) The population biology of two species of eyefluke, Diplostomum spathaceum and Tylodelphys clavata, in roach and rudd. J Fish Biol 13:19–32Google Scholar
  3. Ching HL (1985) Occurrence of the eyefluke, Diplostomum (Diplostomum) baeri bucculentum Dubois et Rausch, 1948, in salmonid fishes of northern British Columbia. Can J Zool 63:396–399Google Scholar
  4. Ferguson MS, Hayford RA (1941) The life history and control of an eye fluke. An account of a serious hatchery disease caused by a parasitic worm. Prog Fish-Cult 54:1–13Google Scholar
  5. Graczyk T (1991) Cases of bilateral asymmetry of Diplostomum pseudospathaceum Niewiadomska, 1984 metacercariae infections (Trematoda, Diplostomidae) in the eye lens of fish. Acta Parasitol Polon 36:131–134Google Scholar
  6. Karvonen A, Hudson PJ, Seppälä O, Valtonen ET (2004) Transmission dynamics of a trematode parasite: exposure, acquired resistance and parasite aggregation. Parasitol Res 92:183–188CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Leno GH, Holloway HL Jr (1989) The occurrence of Diplostomum spathaceum metacercariae in the freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens. Can J Zool 67:2853–2856Google Scholar
  8. Milinski M (1990) Parasites and host decision-making. In: Barnard CJ, Behnke JM (eds) Parasitism and host behaviour. Taylor and Francis, London, pp 95–116Google Scholar
  9. Moore J (2002) Parasites and the behavior of animals. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Niewiadomska K (1986) Verification of the life-cycles of Diplostomum spathaceum (Rudolphi, 1819) and D. pseudospathaceum Niewiadomska, 1984 (Trematoda, Diplostomidae). Syst Parasitol 8:23–31Google Scholar
  11. Owen SF, Barber I, Hart PJB (1993) Low level infection by eye fluke, Diplostomum spp., affects the vision of three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus. J Fish Biol 42:803–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pennycuick L (1971) Frequency distributions of parasites in a population of three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus L, with particular reference to the negative binomial distribution. Parasitology 63:389–406PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Ratanarat-Brockelman C (1974) Migration of Diplostomum spathaceum (Trematoda) in the fish intermediate host. Z Parasitenkd 43:123–134PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Rau ME, Gordon DM, Curtis MA (1979) Bilateral asymmetry of Diplostomum infections in the eyes of lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill) and a computer simulation of the observed metacercarial distribution. J Fish Dis 2:291–297Google Scholar
  15. Shariff M, Richards RH, Sommerville C (1980) The histopathology of acute and chronic infections of rainbow trout Salmo gairdneri Richardson with eye flukes, Diplostomum spp. J Fish Dis 3:455–465Google Scholar
  16. Seppälä O, Karvonen A, Valtonen ET (2004) Parasite-induced change in host behaviour and susceptibility to predation in an eye fluke-fish interaction. Anim Behav (in press)Google Scholar
  17. Sumner FB (1935) Evidence for the protective value of changeable coloration in fishes. Am Nat 69:245–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sweeting RA (1974) Investigations into natural and experimental infections of freshwater fish by the common eye-fluke Diplostomum spathaceum Rud. Parasitology 69:291–300PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Valtonen ET, Gibson DI (1997) Aspects of the biology of diplostomid metacercarial (Digenea) populations occurring in fishes in different localities in northern Finland. Ann Zool Fenn 34:47–59Google Scholar
  20. Valtonen ET, Holmes JC, Koskivaara M (1997) Eutrophication, pollution and fragmentation: effects on parasite communities in roach (Rutilus rutilus) and perch (Perca fluviatilis) in four lakes in Central Finland. Can J Aquat Fish Sci 54:572–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Rintamäki-Kinnunen
    • 1
  • A. Karvonen
    • 2
  • P. Anttila
    • 1
  • E. T. Valtonen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluUniversity of OuluFinland
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläUniversity of JyväskyläFinland

Personalised recommendations