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Interactions of warming and exposure affect susceptibility to parasite infection in a temperate fish species



Predicting how elevated temperatures from climate change alter host–parasite interactions requires understandings of how warming affects host susceptibility and parasite virulence. Here, the effect of elevated water temperature and parasite exposure level was tested on parasite prevalence, abundance and burden, and on fish growth, using Pomphorhynchus laevis and its fish host Squalius cephalus. At 60 days post-exposure, prevalence was higher at the elevated temperature (22 °C) than ambient temperature (18 °C), with infections achieved at considerably lower levels of exposure. Whilst parasite number was significantly higher in infected fish at 22 °C, both mean parasite weight and parasite burden was significantly higher at 18 °C. There were, however, no significant relationships between fish growth rate and temperature, parasite exposure, and the infection parameters. Thus, whilst elevated temperature significantly influenced parasite infection rates, it also impacted parasite development rates, suggesting warming could have complex implications for parasite dynamics and host resistance.


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*Corresponding author: Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth BH12 5BB, UK. E-mail:


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