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Data from: Evolution of virulence under intensive farming: salmon lice increase skin lesions and reduce host growth in salmon farms

Citation

Ugelvik, Mathias S.; Skorping, Arne; Moberg, Olav; Mennerat, Adele (2017), Data from: Evolution of virulence under intensive farming: salmon lice increase skin lesions and reduce host growth in salmon farms, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.68r7s

Abstract

Parasites rely on resources from a host and are selected to achieve an optimal combination of transmission and virulence. Human-induced changes in parasite ecology, such as intensive farming of hosts, might not only favor increased parasite abundances, but also alter the selection acting on parasites and lead to life history evolution. The trade-off between transmission and virulence could be affected by intensive farming practices such as high host density and the use of anti-parasitic drugs, which might lead to increased virulence in some host-parasite systems. To test this we therefore infected Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts with salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) sampled either from wild or farmed hosts in a laboratory experiment. We compared growth and skin damage (i.e. proxies for virulence) of hosts infected with either wild or farmed lice and found that, compared to lice sampled from wild hosts in unfarmed areas, those originating from farmed fish were more harmful; they inflicted more skin damage to their hosts and reduced relative host weight gain to a greater extent. We advocate that more evolutionary studies should be done using farmed animals as study species, given the current increase in intensive food production practices that might be compared to a global experiment in parasite evolution.

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