Abstract

We evaluated the ability of 5 muscle- or skin-dwelling parasites to persist in naturally infected coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, from the West Fork Smith River, Oregon, by holding them in captivity from late summer to early spring (parr stage to the typical time of smoltification). These parasites included metacercariae of 3 digeneans, Nanophyetus salmincola, Apophallus sp., and neascus sp., and 2 myxozoans, Myxobolus insidiosus and Myxobolus fryeri. Two groups of wild-caught fish were evaluated in the laboratory, i.e., heavily infected fish from the lower main stem and less severely infected fish collected from tributaries of this river. All parasites survived in these fish for the 7-month experiment. Only 2 parasites had a statistically significant lower median abundance between host life stages. The mean abundance of N. salmincola declined 45% in the tributary fish and Apophallus sp. declined 43% in the lower main stem fish. However, more than 50% of each species persisted until the end of the study, with smolts still harboring relatively high infections.

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