Eye fluke infection changes diet composition in juvenile European perch (Perca fluviatilis)

  • Intraspecific diet specialization, usually driven by resource availability, competition and predation, is common in natural populations. However, the role of parasites on diet specialization of their hosts has rarely been studied. Eye flukes can impair vision ability of their hosts and have been associated with alterations of fish feeding behavior. Here it was assessed whether European perch (Perca fluviatilis) alter their diet composition as a consequence of infection with eye flukes. Young-of-the-year (YOY) perch from temperate Lake Müggelsee (Berlin, Germany) were sampled in two years, eye flukes counted and fish diet was evaluated using both stomach content and stable isotope analyses. Perch diet was dominated by zooplankton and benthic macroinvertebrates. Both methods indicated that with increasing eye fluke infection intensity fish had a more selective diet, feeding mainly on the benthic macroinvertebrate Dikerogammarus villosus, while less intensively infected fish appeared to be generalist feeders showing no preference for any particular prey type. Our results show that infection with eye flukes can indirectly affect interaction of the host with lower trophic levels by altering the diet composition and highlight the underestimated role of parasites in food web studies.

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Author:Jenny C. Vivas Munoz, Christian K. Feld, Sabine Hilt, Alessandro Manfrin, Milen Nachev, Daniel Köster, Maik A. Jochmann, Torsten C. Schmidt, Bernd Sures, Andrea Zikova, Klaus Knopf
Parent Title (English):Scientifc Reports
Publisher:Nature Portfolio
Document Type:Article (specialist journals)
Date of OPUS upload:2022/11/11
Date of first Publication:2021/02/09
Publishing University:Hochschule Trier
Release Date:2022/11/11
Tag:European perch; Perca fluviatilis; diet specialization; eye fluke; food web; parasite; stable isotope analysis
GND Keyword:Ökologie; Süßwasser; Nahrungskette; Parasit; Flussbarsch
Article Number:3440 (2021)
Page Number:14
First Page:1
Last Page:14
Departments:FB Umweltplanung/-technik (UCB)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International