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Associations and interactions among intestinal helminths of the brown trout, Salmo trutta, in northern Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2007

B.S. Dezfuli
Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Ferrara, Via Borsari 46, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
L. Giari
Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Ferrara, Via Borsari 46, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
S. De Biaggi
Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Ferrara, Via Borsari 46, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
R. Poulin*
Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
*Author for correspondence Fax: 643 479-7584 E-mail:


Species co-occurrences and interspecific associations between intensity of infection were studied in helminth communities of three populations of brown trout, Salmo trutta, from northern Italy. Of the eight helminth species, only four were common enough to be included in the analyses: Pomphorhynchus laevis, Acanthocephalus anguillae, Echinorhynchus truttae and Cyathocephalus truncatus. The observed frequencies of co-occurrences of the different species, based on presence/absence data, did not differ from those predicted by a null model derived from prevalence data. However, the intensity of infection (number of individuals per fish) of different helminth species were generally, but not always significantly, negatively correlated in tests of pairwise associations. Variation in fish sizes and its effect on infection levels, and whether or not two helminth species used the same or different intermediate hosts, had no influence on these findings. Of the few significant negative associations found between pairs of helminth species, none was found in more than one fish population. This suggests that interspecific associations may be condition-dependent: even in apparently similar localities, the same combinations of helminth species show different associations. Without evidence of replicability, it is almost impossible to conclude to the consistent role of competition between any pair of helminth species in the field.

Research Article
Cambridge University Press 2001

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