Using a mechanistic framework to model the density of an aquatic parasite Ceratonova shasta

By: , and 



Ceratonova shasta is a myxozoan parasite endemic to the Pacific Northwest of North America that is linked to low survival rates of juvenile salmonids in some watersheds such as the Klamath River basin. The density of C. shasta actinospores in the water column is typically highest in the spring (March–June), and directly influences infection rates for outmigrating juvenile salmonids. Current management approaches require quantities of C. shasta density to assess disease risk and estimate survival of juvenile salmonids. Therefore, we developed a model to simulate the density of waterborne C. shasta actinospores using a mechanistic framework based on abiotic drivers and informed by empirical data. The model quantified factors that describe the key features of parasite abundance during the period of juvenile salmon outmigration, including the week of initial detection (onset), seasonal pattern of spore density, and peak density of C. shasta. Spore onset was simulated by a bio-physical degree-day model using the timing of adult salmon spawning and accumulation of thermal units for parasite development. Normalized spore density was simulated by a quadratic regression model based on a parabolic thermal response with river water temperature. Peak spore density was simulated based on retained explanatory variables in a generalized linear model that included the prevalence of infection in hatchery-origin Chinook juveniles the previous year and the occurrence of flushing flows (≥171 m3/s). The final model performed well, closely matched the initial detections (onset) of spores, and explained inter-annual variations for most water years. Our C. shasta model has direct applications as a management tool to assess the impact of proposed flow regimes on the parasite, and it can be used for projecting the effects of alternative water management scenarios on disease-induced mortality of juvenile salmonids such as with an altered water temperature regime or with dam removal.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using a mechanistic framework to model the density of an aquatic parasite Ceratonova shasta
Series title PeerJ
DOI 10.7717/peerj.13183
Volume 10
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher PeerJ
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description e13183, 27 p.
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