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Parasite infection but not chronic microplastic exposure reduces the feeding rate in a freshwater fish.

Parker, B., Britton, J R., Green, I. D., Amat-Trigo, F. and Andreou, D., 2023. Parasite infection but not chronic microplastic exposure reduces the feeding rate in a freshwater fish. Environmental Pollution, 320, 121120.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121120


Microplastics (plastics <5 mm) are an environmental contaminant that can negatively impact the behaviour and physiology of aquatic biota. Although parasite infection can also alter the behaviour and physiology of their hosts, few studies have investigated how microplastic and parasite exposure interact to affect hosts. Accordingly, an interaction experiment tested how exposure to environmentally relevant microplastic concentrations and the trophically transmitted parasite Pomphorhynchus tereticollis affected the parasite load, condition metrics and feeding rate of the freshwater fish final host chub Squalius cephalus. Microplastic exposure was predicted to increase infection susceptibility, resulting in increased parasite loads, whereas parasite and microplastic exposure were expected to synergistically and negatively impact condition indices and feeding rates. Following chronic (≈170 day) dietary microplastic exposure, fish were exposed to a given number of gammarids (4/8/12/16/20), with half of the fish presented with parasite infected individuals, before a comparative functional response experiment tested differences in feeding rates on different live prey densities. Contrary to predictions, dietary microplastic exposure did not affect parasite abundance at different levels of parasite exposure, specific growth rate was the only condition index that was lower for exposed but unexposed fish, with no single or interactive effects of microplastic exposure detected. However, parasite infected fish had significantly lower feeding rates than unexposed fish in the functional response experiment, with exposed but unexposed fish also showing an intermediate decrease in feeding rates. Thus, the effects of parasitism on individuals were considerably stronger than microplastic exposure, with no evidence of interactive effects. Impacts of environmentally relevant microplastic levels might thus be relatively minor versus other stressors, with their interactive effects difficult to predict based on their single effects.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Functional response; Host-parasite interactions; Microplastics; Multiple stressors
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:38090
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:26 Jan 2023 10:14
Last Modified:26 Jan 2023 10:14


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