Parasitology Research

, Volume 114, Issue 11, pp 3977–3987 | Cite as

Parasites of fish larvae: do they follow metabolic energetic laws?

  • Gabriela Muñoz
  • Mauricio F. Landaeta
  • Pamela Palacios-Fuentes
  • Mario George-Nascimento
Original Paper


Eumetazoan parasites in fish larvae normally exhibit large body sizes relative to their hosts. This observation raises a question about the potential effects that parasites might have on small fish. We indirectly evaluated this question using energetic metabolic laws based on body volume and the parasite densities. We compared the biovolume as well as the numeric and volumetric densities of parasites over the host body volume of larval and juvenile-adult fish and the average of these parasitological descriptors for castrator parasites and the parasites found in the fish studied here. We collected 5266 fish larvae using nearshore zooplankton sampling and 1556 juveniles and adult fish from intertidal rocky pools in central Chile. We considered only the parasitized hosts: 482 fish larvae and 629 juvenile-adult fish. We obtained 31 fish species; 14 species were in both plankton and intertidal zones. Fish larvae exhibited a significantly smaller biovolume but larger numeric and volumetric densities of parasites than juvenile-adult fish. Therefore, fish larvae showed a large proportion of parasite biovolume per unit of body host (cm3). However, the general scaling of parasitological descriptors and host body volume were similar between larvae and juvenile-adult fish. The ratio between the biovolume of parasites and the host body volume in fish larvae was similar to the proportion observed in castrator parasites. Furthermore, the ratios were different from those of juvenile-adult fish, which suggests that the presence of parasites implies a high energetic cost for fish larvae that would diminish the fitness of these small hosts.


Energetic laws Biovolume of parasites Parasite density Host body volume Fish ontogeny 



This study was funded by the Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT) from the Chilean Government through two research projects: Fondecyt 1120868 granted to GM, and Fondecyt 1130304 granted to MG-N.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriela Muñoz
    • 1
  • Mauricio F. Landaeta
    • 2
  • Pamela Palacios-Fuentes
    • 3
  • Mario George-Nascimento
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Parasitología Marina, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad de ValparaísoViña del MarChile
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ictioplancton (LABITI), Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  3. 3.Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias, Mención EcologíaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Católica de la Santísima ConcepciónConcepciónChile

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