Data from: Allee effects may slow the spread of parasites in a coastal marine ecosystem
Krkosĕk, Martin; Connors, Brendan M.; Lewis, Mark A.; Poulin, Robert (2011), Data from: Allee effects may slow the spread of parasites in a coastal marine ecosystem, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.34g16868
Allee effects are thought to mediate the dynamics of population colonization, particularly for invasive species. However, Allee effects acting on parasites have rarely been considered in the analogous process of infectious disease establishment and spread. We studied the colonization of uninfected wild juvenile Pacific salmon populations by ectoparasitic salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) over four years. From a dataset of 67,896 fish, we observed 88 occurrences of pre-copular pair formation among 1258 pre-adult female and 611 adult male lice. The probability of pair formation was dependent on the local abundance of lice, but this mate limitation is likely offset somewhat by mate-searching dispersal of males among host fish. A mathematical model of macroparasite population dynamics that incorporates the empirical results suggests a high likelihood of a demographic Allee effect, which can cause the colonizing parasite populations to die out. These results may provide the first empirical evidence for Allee effects in a macroparasite. Furthermore, the data give a rare detailed view of Allee effects in colonization dynamics and suggest that Allee effects may dampen the spread of parasites in a coastal marine ecosystem.