Parasitology Research

, Volume 118, Issue 9, pp 2531–2541 | Cite as

Eye fluke (Tylodelphys clavata) infection impairs visual ability and hampers foraging success in European perch

  • Jenny Carolina Vivas MuñozEmail author
  • David Bierbach
  • Klaus Knopf
Fish Parasitology - Original Paper


Visual performance and environmental conditions can influence both behavioral patterns and predator-prey interactions of fish. Eye parasites can impair their host’s sensory performance with important consequences for the detection of prey, predators, and conspecifics. We used European perch (Perca fluviatilis) experimentally infected with the eye fluke Tylodelphys clavata and evaluated their feeding behavior and competitive ability under competition with non-infected conspecifics, in groups of four individuals, for two different prey species (Asellus aquaticus and Daphnia magna). To test whether the effect of T. clavata infection differs at different light conditions, we performed the experiments at two light intensities (600 and 6 lx). Foraging efficiency of perch was significantly affected by infection but not by light intensity. The distance at which infected fish attacked both prey species was significantly shorter in comparison to non-infected conspecifics. Additionally, infected fish more often unsuccessfully attacked A. aquaticus. Although the outcome of competition depended on prey species, there was a general tendency that non-infected fish consumed more of the available prey under both light intensities. Even though individual prey preferences for either A. aquaticus or D. magna were observed, we could not detect that infected fish change their prey preference to compensate for a reduced competitive foraging ability. As infection of T. clavata impairs foraging efficiency and competitive ability, infected fish would need to spend more time foraging to attain similar food intake as non-infected conspecifics; this presumably increases predation risk and potentially enhances transmission success to the final host.


Tylodelphys clavata Eye fluke Perca fluviatilis Host-parasite interaction Foraging behavior Prey preference Intraspecific competition 



We are grateful to Dr. Jasminca Behrmann-Godel for her valuable advice on raising perch in the lab and Mathias Kunow for his support in collecting fertilized eggs of perch. Further, we would like to thank Janne Ros Irmler and Amrei Gründer for their support with the videos and Dr. Sabine Hilt for her valuable comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was supported by the Graduate School IMPact-Vector funded by the Senate Competition Committee grant (SAW-2014-SGN-3) of the Leibniz-Association. Research of D.B. is currently supported by the DFG (BI 1828/2-1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Tagging of the fish, experimental infection, and behavioral experiments were performed in accordance with the German Animal Welfare Act and were approved by the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LaGeSo, reference number G0243/16).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenny Carolina Vivas Muñoz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • David Bierbach
    • 1
  • Klaus Knopf
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Life SciencesHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany

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