Observational data on the effects of infection by the copepod Salmincola californiensis on the short- and long-term viability of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) implanted with telemetry tags

Animal Biotelemetry
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Abstract

Background

Fish movements are often studied using radio or acoustic tags assuming the handling and tagging procedures have little effect on the behavior of the animal. Indeed, many studies provide guidelines for acceptable methods. However, these studies generally assume the fish are otherwise healthy but this may not always be the case. One example is the infection of juvenile salmon in the western USA by the naturally-occurring parasitic copepod Salmincola californiensis, for which little is known about the effects on results from tagged animals. We report on observational data from juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) surgically implanted with telemetry tags relative to the numbers of S. californiensis within their branchial cavities and on their bodies to determine if the intensity of infection resulted in differences in mortality shortly after tagging or post-release activity in a reservoir over a period of about 4 months.

Results

The data indicate a negative effect of copepods in the branchial cavities on short-term mortality (within 24 h of tagging) and suggest negative effects on movements after release into the reservoir. Short-term mortalities were infrequent and, due to the observational nature of the data, few tagged fish had more than three copepods in their branchial cavities, although surveys of fish in the reservoir indicate much greater infection intensities are common. Copepod numbers on the body did not appear to be associated with short-term mortality or movements after release. The number of copepods on the body was unrelated to the number within the branchial cavities, indicating site-specific counts are needed to assess the infection.

Conclusion

Infection with Salmincola californiensis is common in juvenile Chinook salmon in western USA reservoirs and may affect the viability of fish used in studies of telemetered animals. Our limited assessment suggests infection by Salmincola californiensis affects the short-term morality of tagged fish and may affect long-term viability of tagged fish after release; however, the intensity of infection in the sample population did not represent the source population due to the observational nature of the data. We suggest these results warrant further study into the effects of infection bySalmincola californiensis on the results obtained through active telemetry and perhaps other methods requiring handling of infected fish.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Observational data on the effects of infection by the copepod Salmincola californiensis on the short- and long-term viability of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) implanted with telemetry tags
Series title Animal Biotelemetry
DOI 10.1186/s40317-015-0056-5
Volume 3
Issue 20
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Biomed Central
Publisher location London
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 7 p.
First page 1
Last page 7
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N