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Intrinsic and extrinsic factors associated with the spatio-temporal distribution of infectious agents in early marine Chinook and Coho salmon

Arthur L. Bass*, Sean C. Anderson, Andrew W. Bateman, Brendan M. Connors, M. Angelica Peña, Shaorong Li, Karia H. Kaukinen, David A. Patterson, Scott G. Hinch, Kristina M. Miller

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding the factors driving the spatial distribution of infectious agents in populations is key to predicting infectious agent distributions under future ecological and anthropogenic scenarios. We applied a geostatistical analysis to a dataset of 59 infectious agents assayed in thousands of Chinook and Coho salmon in their first marine year to identify intrinsic and extrinsic factors associated with the probability and density (infectious agent load) of infection. Meta-analysis of the pathogen-specific geostatistical models indicated that sea surface salinity was the extrinsic factor most frequently associated with infection probability and density for a majority of infectious agents. In addition, agents that were categorized as having a moderate risk of transmission from aquaculture to wild salmon were more likely to occur, and at higher infection densities, in fish collected closer to active aquaculture facilities. Although hypotheses pertaining to other intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including age at ocean entry, known hatchery origin, and sea surface temperature deviation, were not supported by the meta-analysis results, some individual agents demonstrated strong associations with these factors. Our results suggest that climate-change-driven shifts in coastal seawater salinity (and to a lesser extent, temperature) may result in changes to the infection dynamics of several infectious agents. In addition, our results contribute to existing evidence characterizing the risk of infectious agent transmission from netpen aquaculture to free-ranging salmon.