Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 37, Issue 1–4, pp 53–64 | Cite as

A review of methods for estimating mortality due to parasites in wild fish populations

  • R. J. G. Lester
General Aspects


Six methods are described for detecting mortality due to parasitic infections in natural fish populations. They are: (a) through autopsies; (b) by determining the frequency of infections known to be eventually lethal; (c) by observing a decrease in the prevalence of a long-lived parasite (or permanent scar from a parasite) with host age; (d) by observing a decrease in the variance/mean ratio for the parasites with host age; (e) by comparing the observed frequency of a combination of two independent events with the calculated probability of their occurrence; and finally (f) by comparing the observed frequency distribution of the parasite, with a projected frequency based on data from lightly infected fish. In this technique, negative binomials are fitted to the data and truncated at various points. Some advantages and disadvantages of the different methods are given, together with examples. The methods do not necessarily provide definitive answers, but they are indicative of whether or not significant parasite-related mortality may be occurring, and in some cases provide an estimate of its probable magnitude in terms of the total host mortality rate.


Waste Water Parasitic Infection Fish Population Definitive Answer Negative Binomial 
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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. G. Lester
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ParasitologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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