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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 68:167-173 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao068167

Seasonal and vertical patterns of egg-laying by the freshwater fish louse Argulus foliaceus (Crustacea: Branchiura)

A. J. Harrison1, N. F. S. Gault2,3,*, J. T. A. Dick1

1School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK
2School of Agriculture and Food Science, Queen’s University Belfast and 3Food Science Division, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Argulus foliaceus is a damaging fish ectoparasite for which new control measures are being developed based on egg-removal. In an attempt to develop further understanding of seasonal and vertical egg-laying patterns in this parasite, egg-laying activity was monitored over the period 14 April to 17 November 2003 in 2 rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss fisheries in Northern Ireland, UK. At Site 1, egg-laying was continuous from 21 April to 17 November, when water temperature was above 8 to 10°C. At Site 2, egg-laying was continuous from 4 June to 29 October. In the early months of the season, egg-laying was recorded mainly within the top 1 m of the water column; however, a significant shift to deep water egg-laying was recorded between 7 July and 17 November at Site 1 and between 20 August and 29 October at Site 2. Egg clutches were preferentially laid at depths of up to 8.5 m during this time (Site 2), a feature of egg-laying hitherto unappreciated. Temperature and dissolved oxygen did not differ significantly among depths, but there was an increase in water clarity over time. However, the precise environmental triggers for deep water egg-laying are still unclear. These new insights into the reproductive behaviour of this species will be useful in developing control methods based on egg-removal.

KEY WORDS: Argulus foliaceus · Freshwater fish louse · Egg-laying · Vertical distribution · Depth · Parasite · Rainbow trout

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