Skip to main content Accessibility help

Determinants of parasite distribution in Arctic charr populations: catchment structure versus dispersal potential

  • R.A. Paterson (a1), R. Knudsen (a2), I. Blasco-Costa (a3), A.M. Dunn (a4), S. Hytterød (a5) and H. Hansen (a5)...


Parasite distribution patterns in lotic catchments are driven by the combined influences of unidirectional water flow and the mobility of the most mobile host. However, the importance of such drivers in catchments dominated by lentic habitats are poorly understood. We examined parasite populations of Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus from a series of linear-connected lakes in northern Norway to assess the generality of lotic-derived catchment-scale parasite assemblage patterns. Our results demonstrated that the abundance of most parasite taxa increased from the upper to lower catchment. Allogenic taxa (piscivorous birds as final host) were present throughout the entire catchment, whereas their autogenic counterparts (charr as final hosts) demonstrated restricted distributions, thus supporting the theory that the mobility of the most mobile host determines taxa-specific parasite distribution patterns. Overall, catchment-wide parasite abundance and distribution patterns in this lentic-dominated system were in accordance with those reported for lotic systems. Additionally, our study highlighted that upper catchment regions may be inadequate reservoirs to facilitate recolonization of parasite communities in the event of downstream environmental perturbations.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Determinants of parasite distribution in Arctic charr populations: catchment structure versus dispersal potential
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Determinants of parasite distribution in Arctic charr populations: catchment structure versus dispersal potential
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Determinants of parasite distribution in Arctic charr populations: catchment structure versus dispersal potential
      Available formats


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: R.A. Paterson, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK E-mail:


Hide All
Amundsen, P-A and Kristoffersen, R (1990) Infection of whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L. sl) by Triaenophorus crassus Forel (Cestoda: Pseudophyllidea): a case study in parasite control. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68, 11871192.
Amundsen, P-A Kristoffersen, R, Knudsen, R and Klemetsen, A (1997) Infection of Salmincola edwardsii (Copepoda: Lernaeopodidae) in an age-structured population of Arctic charr - a long-term study. Journal of Fish Biology 51, 10331046.
Amundsen, P-A, Knudsen, R, Kuris, AM and Kristoffersen, R (2003) Seasonal and ontogenetic dynamics in trophic transmission of parasites. Oikos 102, 285293.
Arneberg, P, Skorping, A, Grenfell, B and Read, AF (1998) Host densities as determinants of abundance in parasite communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 265, 12831289.
Berger, WH and Parker, FL (1970) Diversity of planktonic foraminifera in deep-sea sediments. Science 168, 13451347.
Bérubé, M and Curtis, MA (1986) Transmission of Diphyllobothrium ditremum to Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) in two subarctic Quebec lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 43, 16261634.
Blanar, C, Hewitt, M, McMaster, M, Kirk, J, Wang, Z, Norwood, W and Marcogliese, D (2016) Parasite community similarity in Athabasca River trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) varies with local-scale land use and sediment hydrocarbons, but not distance or linear gradients. Parasitology Research 115, 38533866.
Blasco-Costa, I, Rouco, C and Poulin, R (2015) Biogeography of parasitism in freshwater fish: spatial patterns in hot spots of infection. Ecography 38, 301310.
Blasco-Costa, I, Poulin, R and Presswell, B (2017) Morphological description and molecular analyses of Tylodelphys sp. (Trematoda: Diplostomidae) newly recorded from the freshwater fish Gobiomorphus cotidianus (common bully) in New Zealand. Journal of Helminthology 91, 332345.
Blasco-Costa, I, Koehler, AV, Martin, A and Poulin, R (2013) Upstream-downstream gradient in infection levels by fish parasites: a common river pattern? Parasitology 140, 266274.
Blasco-Costa, I, Faltýnková, A, Georgieva, S, Skírnisson, K, Scholz, T and Kostadinova, A (2014) Fish pathogens near the Arctic Circle: molecular, morphological and ecological evidence for unexpected diversity of Diplostomum (Digenea: Diplostomidae) in Iceland. International Journal for Parasitology 44, 703715.
Braicovich, PE, Kuhn, JA, Amundsen, P-A and Marcogliese, DJ (2016) Three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, as a possible paratenic host for salmonid nematodes in a subarctic lake. Parasitology Research 115, 13351338.
Bush, AO, Lafferty, KD, Lotz, JM and Shostak, AW (1997) Parasitology meets ecology on its own terms: Margolis et al. revisited. Journal of Parasitology 83, 575583.
Clifford, HT and Stephenson, W (1975) An Introduction to Numerical Classification. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Eloranta, A, Knudsen, R and Amundsen, P-A (2013) Niche segregation of coexisting Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) constrains food web coupling in subarctic lakes. Freshwater Biology 58, 207221.
Esch, GW, Kennedy, CR, Bush, AO and Aho, JM (1988) Patterns in helminth communities in freshwater fish in Great Britain: alternative strategies for colonization. Parasitology 96, 519532.
Fukami, JI, Shishido, T, Fukunaga, K and Casida, JE (1969) Oxidative metabolism of rotenone in mammals, fish and insects, and its relation to selective toxicity. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 17, 12171226.
Hakalahti, T, Karvonen, A and Valtonen, E (2006) Climate warming and disease risks in temperate regions–Argulus coregoni and Diplostomum spathaceum as case studies. Journal of Helminthology 80, 9398.
Hanssen, ØK (2013) Kartlegging av fiskebestandene i Fustavassdraget i forkant av rotenonbehandling. 2013–06. 978-82-8312-039-4, Ferskvannsbiologen, Lødingen. (In Norwegian).
Hartvigsen, R and Halvorsen, O (1993) Common and rare trout parasites in a small landscape system. Parasitology 106, 101105.
Heino, J, Virkkala, R and Toivonen, H (2009) Climate change and freshwater biodiversity: detected patterns, future trends and adaptations in northern regions. Biological Reviews 84, 3954.
Hofmann, H, Blasco-Costa, I, Knudsen, R, Matthaei, CD, Valois, A and Lange, K (2016) Parasite prevalence in an intermediate snail host is subject to multiple anthropogenic stressors in a New Zealand river system. Ecological Indicators 60, 845852.
Jackson, DA, Peres-Neto, PR and Olden, JD (2001) What controls who is where in freshwater fish communities the roles of biotic, abiotic, and spatial factors. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 58, 157170.
Kelly, DW, Poulin, R, Tompkins, DM and Townsend, CR (2010) Synergistic effects of glyphosate formulation and parasite infection on fish malformations and survival. Journal of Applied Ecology 47, 498504.
Kennedy, CR (1977) Distribution and zoogeographical characteristics of the parasite fauna of char Salvelinus alpinus in Arctic Norway, including Spitsbergen and Jan Mayen islands. Astarte 10, 4955.
Kennedy, CR (1978) An analysis of the metazoan parasitocoenoses of brown trout Salmo trutta from British Lakes. Journal of Fish Biology 13, 255263.
Knudsen, R, Kristoffersen, R and Amundsen, PA (1997) Parasite communities in two sympatric morphs of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus (L.), in northern Norway. Canadian Journal of Zoology 75, 20032009.
Knudsen, R, Amundsen, P-A and Klemetsen, A (2002) Parasite-induced host mortality: indirect evidence from a long-term study. Environmental Biology of Fishes 64, 257265.
Knudsen, R, Amundsen, P-A, Nilsen, R, Kristoffersen, R and Klemetsen, A (2008) Food borne parasites as indicators of trophic segregation between Arctic charr and brown trout. Environmental Biology of Fishes 83, 107116.
Knudsen, R, Primicerio, R, Amundsen, P-A and Klemetsen, A (2010) Temporal stability of individual feeding specialization may promote speciation. Journal of Animal Ecology 79, 161168.
Kotze, AC, Dobson, RJ and Chandler, D (2006) Synergism of rotenone by piperonyl butoxide in Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis in vitro: potential for drug-synergism through inhibition of nematode oxidative detoxification pathways. Veterinary Parasitology 136, 275282.
Kristmundsson, Á and Richter, SH (2009) Parasites of resident Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, and brown trout, Salmo trutta, in two lakes in Iceland. Icelandic Agricultural Sciences 22, 518.
Kuhn, JA, Knudsen, R, Kristoffersen, R, Primicerio, R and Amundsen, P-A (2016) Temporal changes and between-host variation in the intestinal parasite community of Arctic charr in a subarctic lake. Hydrobiologia 783, 7991.
Lagrue, C and Poulin, R (2015) Spatial covariation of local abundance among different parasite species: the effect of shared hosts. Parasitology Research 114, 36373643.
Magurran, AE (2003) Measuring Biological Diversity. Oxford: Blackwell Science.
Marcogliese, DJ and Cone, DK (1991) Importance of lake characteristics in structuring parasite communities of salmonids from insular Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69, 29622967.
Marcogliese, DJ, Gendron, AD, Plante, C, Fournier, M and Cyr, D (2006) Parasites of spottail shiners (Notropis hudsonius) in the St. Lawrence River: effects of municipal effluents and habitat. Canadian Journal of Zoology 84, 14611481.
Morley, NJ (2007) Anthropogenic effects of reservoir construction on the parasite fauna of aquatic wildlife. EcoHealth 4, 374383.
NVE (Norges vassdrags- og energidirektorat / The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate) (2015) NVE Altas 3.0. Available at
Oros, M and Hanzelová, V (2009) Re-establishment of the fish parasite fauna in the Tisa River system (Slovakia) after a catastrophic pollution event. Parasitology Research 104, 14971506.
Ostfeld, RS, Glass, GE and Keesing, F (2005) Spatial epidemiology: an emerging (or re-emerging) discipline. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20, 328336.
Paterson, RA, Rauque, CA, Fernandez, MV, Townsend, CR, Poulin, R and Tompkins, DM (2013) Native fish avoid parasite spillback from multiple exotic hosts: consequences of host density and parasite competency. Biological Invasions 15, 22052218.
Paull, SH and Johnson, PT (2011) High temperature enhances host pathology in a snail–trematode system: possible consequences of climate change for the emergence of disease. Freshwater Biology 56, 767778.
Pinheiro, J, Bates, D, DebRoy, S, Sarkar, D and R Core, Team (2017) Package ‘nlme’: linear and nonlinear mixed effects models. R version 3–1. Available at
Poulin, R (2000) Variation in the intraspecific relationship between fish length and intensity of parasitic infection: biological and statistical causes. Journal of Fish Biology 56, 123137.
Poulin, R (2003) The decay of similarity with geographical distance in parasite communities of vertebrate hosts. Journal of Biogeography 30, 16091615.
Poulin, R and Valtonen, ET (2002) The predictability of helminth community structure in space: a comparison of fish populations from adjacent lakes. International Journal for Parasitology 32, 12351243.
Præbel, K and Knudsen, R (2012) Genetiske undersøkelser av ørret (Salmo trutta) og røye (Salvelinus alpinus) i Fustvassdraget med henblikk på å bevare genetisk diversitet og variasjon etter rotenonbehandling. UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. (In Norwegian).
R Development Core Team (2016) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria.
Salgado-Maldonado, G, Novelo-turcotte, MT, Vazquez, G, Caspeta-mandujano, JM, Quiroz-Martinez, B and Favila, M (2014) The communities of helminth parasites of Heterandria bimaculata (Teleostei: Poeciliidae) from the upper Río La Antigua basin, east-central Mexico show a predictable structure. Parasitology 141, 970980.
Sæter, L (1995) Overvåking av ungfiskbestander og utbredelsen av lakseparasitten Gyrodactylus salaris i Nordland 1990–1994. - Fylkesmannen i Nordland, Miljøvernavdelingen, Rapport 3–1995: 1195.
Siwertsson, A, Refsnes, B, Frainer, A, Amundsen, P-A and Knudsen, R (2016) Divergence and parallelism of parasite infections in Arctic charr morphs from deep and shallow lake habitats. Hydrobiologia 783, 131143.
Skoglund, S, Siwertsson, A, Amundsen, P-A and Knudsen, R (2015) Morphological divergence between three Arctic charr morphs– the significance of the deepwater environment. Ecology and Evolution 5, 31143129.
Sterud, E (1999) Parasitter hos norske ferskvannsfisk. Norsk Zoologisk Forening, Oslo. Rapport 7. (In Norwegian).
Tonkin, JD, Stoll, S, Sundermann, A and Haase, P (2014) Dispersal distance and the pool of taxa, but not barriers, determine the colonisation of restored river reaches by benthic invertebrates. Freshwater Biology 59, 18431855.
Valtonen, E, Holmes, J and Koskivaara, M (1997) Eutrophication, pollution and fragmentation: effects on parasite communities in roach (Rutilus rutilus) and perch (Perca fluviatilis) in four lakes in central Finland. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54, 572585.
Vannote, RL, Minshall, GW, Cummins, KW, Sedell, JR and Cushing, CE (1980) The river continuum concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37, 130137.
Woodward, G, Perkins, DM and Brown, LE (2010) Climate change and freshwater ecosystems: impacts across multiple levels of organization. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 365, 20932106.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Paterson et al. supplementary material
Tables S1-S2

 Word (202 KB)
202 KB

Determinants of parasite distribution in Arctic charr populations: catchment structure versus dispersal potential

  • R.A. Paterson (a1), R. Knudsen (a2), I. Blasco-Costa (a3), A.M. Dunn (a4), S. Hytterød (a5) and H. Hansen (a5)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed