Food borne parasites as indicators of trophic segregation between Arctic charr and brown trout

  • Rune Knudsen
  • Per-Arne Amundsen
  • Rune Nilsen
  • Roar Kristoffersen
  • Anders Klemetsen
Original Paper


The habitat and diet choice and the infection (prevalence and abundance) of trophically transmitted parasites were compared in Arctic charr and brown trout living sympatrically in two lakes in northern Norway. Arctic charr were found in all main lake habitats, whereas the brown trout were almost exclusively found in the littoral zone. In both lakes the parasite fauna reflected the niche segregation between trout and charr. Surface insects were most common in the diet of trout, but transmit few parasites, and accordingly the brown trout had a relatively low diversity and abundance of parasites. Parasites transmitted by benthic prey such as Gammarus and insect larva, were common in both salmonid host species. Copepod transmitted parasites were much more common in Arctic charr, as brown trout did not include zooplankton in their diets. Parasite species that may use small fish as transport hosts, were far more abundant in piscivorous fish, especially brown trout. The seasonal dynamics in parasite infection were also consistent with the developments in the diet throughout the year. The study demonstrates that the structure of parasite communities of charr and the trout is highly dependent on shifts in habitat and diet of their hosts both on an annual base and through the ontogeny, in addition to the observed niche segregation between the two salmonid species.


Parasite community Salvelinus alpinus Salmo trutta Feeding 



We want to thank Laina Dalsbø and Jan Evjen for technical assistance both in the field and in the laboratory.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rune Knudsen
    • 1
  • Per-Arne Amundsen
    • 1
  • Rune Nilsen
    • 1
  • Roar Kristoffersen
    • 1
  • Anders Klemetsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aquatic BioSciences, Norwegian College of Fishery ScienceUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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