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The population dynamics of Gyrodactylus bullatarudis (Monogenea) within laboratory populations of the fish host Poecilia reticulata

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2009

Marilyn E. Scott
Department of Pure and Applied Biology, Imperial College, London University, London SW7 2BB
R. M. Anderson
Department of Pure and Applied Biology, Imperial College, London University, London SW7 2BB


Experiments were undertaken to investigate the factors which influence the transmission dynamics of Gyrodactylus bullatarudis within populations of laboratory guppies. The parasites possess a number of biological attributes which are almost unique amongst helminth parasites of vertebrates. These include the ability to reproduce viviparously and directly on the surface of the host, the ability to survive death of the host (for a short period of time) and the ability to transfer between hosts (despite the absence of a specialized transmission stage in the parasite's life-cycle). Long-term laboratory experiments demonstrated the inability of the parasite to persist within populations of the host in the absence of the continual introduction of naive susceptible fish. With regular addition of susceptible fish, the parasite population exhibited recurrent epidemic behaviour. The magnitudes of the epidemics and the time interval between them, were dependent on the rate at which fish were added to the populations. The parasite was over-dispersed in its distribution within the experimental fish populations and was a significant cause of host mortality (in a manner related to parasite burden). The experimental results suggest that acquired resistance to infection is an important factor determining epidemic behaviour.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1984

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