Schistocephalus solidus plerocercoids commonly infect three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus populations in brackish and freshwaters, but infections are typically absent from marine populations. Here we provide an experimental test of the salinity tolerance of S. solidus eggs, to determine the role of salinity in limiting the distribution of infection in coastal zones. We find that S. solidus eggs, derived from the in vitro culture of 3 different plerocercoids, developed normally in salinities of up to 12.5‰, but above this egg viability dropped rapidly, and no egg hatching was observed at salinities above 20‰. Our results are consistent with the distribution of infections in natural stickleback populations and add resolution to previous descriptive observations on salinity tolerance in S. solidus. They also demonstrate that S. solidus presents a novel disease challenge to marine populations of three-spined sticklebacks entering brackish and freshwater environments.

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