Worms infecting fish grow 4 times faster at higher temperatures and manipulate the behavior of fish
Parasitic worms that infect fish, and have a devastating effect on fish reproduction, grow four times faster at higher temperatures – providing some of the first evidence that global warming affects the interactions between parasites and their hosts.
The study from the University of Leicester revealed that global warming had the potential to change the balance between parasite and host – with potentially serious implications for fish populations. The researchers from the University of Leicester’s Department of Biology also observed behavioural change in infected fish – suggesting parasites may manipulate host behaviour to make them seek out warmer temperatures.
‘What we witnessed was that fish infected with the largest worms showed a preference for warmer water, suggesting that these parasites also manipulate the behaviour of host fish in ways that benefit the parasites by maximizing their growth rates,’ said Dr Iain Barber of the Department of Biology at the University of Leicester, who carried out the study with doctoral student Vicki Macnab..: more | eurekalert
Reference : Macnab, V. & Barber, I. (2011) Some (worms) like it hot: fish parasites grow faster in warmer water, and alter host thermal preferences.
Global Change Biology in press .: DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02595.x