DAO 64:163-173 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao064163

Spatial and temporal variations in sea lice (Copepoda: Caligidae) infestations of three salmonid species farmed in net pens in southern Chile

Francisco J. Zagmutt-Vergara, Tim E. Carpenter*, Thomas B. Farver, Ronald P. Hedrick

Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Sea lice infestations have become a major health problem for farmed salmonids throughout the world including Chile. In southern Chile, 6 geographical areas, divided into 22 geographical zones with a total of 127 salmon farming centers and 1519 sea pens, were regularly sampled from December 1999 to April 2002. A linear mixed-effects model (LME) approach was used to describe the infestations of adult forms of sea lice on 3 salmonid species farmed in southern Chile. The variables fish species, water temperature, water salinity, fish weight, juvenile parasite count, pen shape, treatment status in previous month and the interaction of previous and current month treatments were found to be statistically significant fixed effects for the population sampled. The most susceptible species to sea lice infestation was rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, while the least susceptible species was coho salmon O. kisutch. Fishes in pens treated in the previous month with avermectins were associated with the smallest sea lice count compared to fishes in pens not treated or treated with other products. The variability in sea lice infestations in areas and zones within areas was not statistically significant when controlling for the previously mentioned fixed variables. The variability between centers, the within-pen variability, and the interaction between within-pen effect and the date of measurement were statistically significant and not explained by the fixed effects. Potential sources for this variability are discussed. We conclude that the epidemiology of sea lice infestations in farmed salmonids in southern Chile is complex and in need of further study.

KEY WORDS: Sea lice · Epidemiology · Fish health · Farmed salmonids · Linear mixed models

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