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Title: Mathematical models for the control of Argulus foliaceus in UK stillwater trout fisheries
Author: McPherson, Nicola J.
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2013
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Species of Argulus are macro-, ecto-parasites known to infect a wide variety of fish, but in the UK mainly cause problems in rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta). Argulus foliaceus is estimated to have caused problems in over 25% of stillwater trout fisheries in the UK. While A. foliaceus does not usually cause high levels of mortality, the parasite affects fish welfare, and also makes fish harder to catch due to morbidity and reduced appetite. This can cause severe economic problems for the fishery, resulting in reduced angler attendance due to poor capture rates and the reduced aesthetic appearance of fish; in the worst-case scenario this can result in the closure of the fishery. Current methods of control include chemical treatment with chemotherapeutant emamectin benzoate (Slice), physical intervention with egg-laying boards which are removed periodically and cleaned in order to reduce the number of parasites hatching into the environment, and the complete draining and liming of the lake to remove all free-living and egg stages of the parasite. While these treatments have all been shown to reduce parasite numbers, none are known to have resulted in permament eradication of the parasite. There is evidence to suggest that A. foliaceus will eventually develop resistance to Slice - the only currently available chemical treatment against the infection - and egg-laying boards and the draining and liming of the lake are both time- and labour-intensive. Previous studies have shown that slow fish turnover is a risk factor with respect to A. foliaceus infections, and with a wide variety of stocking practices occurring in the UK one of the first aims of this project was to determine their impact on the host-parasite dynamics. Mathematical models provide a cost-effective way of examining the impact of such practices, and after a literature review (chapter one), in chapter two a three-compartment mathematical model was adapted for use in the A. foliaceus-trout system. Four generalised stocking methods were then incorporated and analysed, and a minimum threshold host density was found to be necessary to sustain the parasite. Including a function which reduced the capture rate as the parasite burden increased allowed the parasite to survive at a lower host density, as susceptible fish were removed from the water at a slower rate, and attached parasites also remained in the water for longer. This resulted in hysteresis in the model, as the invasion threshold for the parasite remained the same, but once established the parasite became harder to eradicate, requiring significant reductions in the host density. In chapter three the model was further developed in order to improve its biological real- ism. Several features were added and these included: natural host mortalities, a separate compartment for the parasite egg population, and parasite survival after the natural or parasite-induced mortality of its host. In chapter four seasonality was added by incorporating temperature-dependent egg-laying rates and an over-wintering period during which the parasite was unable to reproduce. The model was then fit to the available data, and estimates for the rate of parasite-induced host mortalities and the parasite’s rate of attachment to a host were found. In chapter five we returned to stocking methods, this time looking at the frequency and timing of stocking events and the impact of imposing a rod limit (whereby anglers are only permitted to capture four fish per visit); it was concluded that while current guidelines suggest that very frequent trickle stocking is recommended when dealing with Argulus spp. infections, monthly stocking does not appear to worsen the infection, and if the fish capture rate is high then less-frequent stocking may also be permissable - particularly if stocking occurs towards the end of the year when the parasite is no longer active. This practice may, however, be detrimental to the fishery due to low fish densities in the summer months. In chapter six treatment with Slice was included in the model, and it was demonstrated that with constant treatment, and in the absence of reservoir hosts and a withdrawal period from the drug prior to stocking treated fish into the fishery, the parasite was eradicated. Under current veterinary cascade guidelines, however, trout are required to undergo a withdrawal period of 500 degree days prior to being made available for human consumption. When this was included in the model the drug still decreased parasite abundance, but did not eradicate it - this is in agreement with results reported by communications with fishery managers currently treating fish with Slice. A reduction in the withdrawal period of 25% was shown to further decrease parasite abundance, but still did not result in parasite extinction. As constant treatment with Slice is not advisable due to the potential for resistance build-up, we then sought to find time at which to apply a single treatment of Slice, and found that this was in August when the temperature was highest and the parasite was reproducing and attaching to hosts quickly. Egg-laying boards were also incorporated into the model and similarly to findings by Fenton et al. [11] the success of this treatment was mostly dependent on the proportion of eggs being laid on the boards (as opposed to natural substrates). In contrast with the A. coregoni system, however, the boards would have to be cleaned and replaced more frequently that once per year, as several cohorts of A. foliaceus emerge during a single year.
Supervisor: Norman, Rachel; Taylor, Nicholas G. H.; Hoyle, Andrew; Bron, James Sponsor: Centre for Environment ; Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) ; Institute of Aquaculture (University of Stirling) ; Computing Science and Mathematics (University of Stirling)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Argulus foliaceus ; macroparasite ; mathematical model ; A. foliaceus ; O. mykiss ; Rainbow trout ; Parasite ; Emamectin benzoate ; ODE ; Ordinary differential equations ; Trout fisheries Great Britain ; Arguloida