Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 29–34

Influence of black spot disease on shoaling behaviour in female western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)

Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10641-006-9153-x

Cite this article as:
Tobler, M. & Schlupp, I. Environ Biol Fish (2008) 81: 29. doi:10.1007/s10641-006-9153-x


Parasites can fundamentally alter the cost–benefit ratio of living in a group, e.g. if infected individuals increase the predation risk of shoal mates. Here, the effect of an infection with a trematode, Uvulifer sp. (Diplostomatidae) on the shoaling behaviour of female western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, was investigated. The parasite examined causes a direct phenotypical change of the host by forming black spots on its body surface. When given a choice between a stimulus shoal and no shoal, we found shoaling tendencies to be significantly reduced in infected focal fish. In another experiment, we tested for association preferences relative to the infection status of the stimulus fish. Given the choice between an infected and a healthy stimulus fish, both infected and healthy focal fish preferred to associate with non-infected stimulus fish. Our results suggest that (1) the cost–benefit ratio of shoaling might be different for infected and non-infected individuals. Infected fish may be more affected by competition for food within a shoal. (2) Associating with infected conspecifics appears to be costly for female mosquitofish, maybe due to increased predation risk.


Group living Predation Parasites Uvulifer Fish behaviour 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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