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We experimentally infected juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) with Renibacterium salmoninarum (Rs), the causative agent of bacterial kidney disease (BKD), to examine the vulnerability to predation of fish with differing levels of Rs infection and assess physiological change during progression of the disease. Immersion challenges conducted during 1992 and 1994 produced fish with either a low to moderate (1992) or high (1994) infection level of Rs during the 14-week postchallenge rearing period. When equal numbers of treatment and unchallenged control fish were subjected to predation by either northern squaw fish (Ptychocheilus oregonensis) or smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Rs-challenged fish were eaten in significantly greater numbers than controls by nearly two to one. In 1994, we also sampled fish every 2 weeks after the challenge to determine some stressful effects of Rs infection. During disease progression in fish, plasma cortisol and lactate increased significantly whereas glucose decreased significantly. Our results indicate the role that BKD may play in predator-prey interactions, thus ascribing some ecological significance to this disease beyond that of direct pathogen-related mortality. In addition, the physiological changes observed in our fish during the chronic progression of BKD indicate that this disease is stressful, particularly during the later stages.
Additional Publication Details
Vulnerability to predation and physiological stress responses in juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) experimentally infected with Renibacterium salmoninarum
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences