Parasite avoidance behaviours in aquatic environments

Donald Behringer, Anssi Karvonen, Jamie Bojko

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    Parasites, including macroparasites, protists, fungi, bacteria and viruses, can
    impose a heavy burden upon host animals. However, hosts are not without
    defences. One aspect of host defence, behavioural avoidance, has been studied
    in the terrestrial realmfor over 50 years, butwas first reported from the aquatic
    environment approximately 20 years ago. Evidence has mounted on the
    importance of parasite avoidance behaviours and it is increasingly apparent
    that there are core similarities in the function and benefit of this defence
    mechanism between terrestrial and aquatic systems. However, there are also
    stark differences driven by the unique biotic and abiotic characteristics
    of terrestrial and aquatic (marine and freshwater) environments. Here, we
    review avoidance behaviours in a comparative framework and highlight the
    characteristics of each environment that drive differences in the suite of
    mechanisms and cues that animals use to avoid parasites. We then explore
    trade-offs, potential negative effects of avoidance behaviour and the influence
    of human activities on avoidance behaviours. We conclude that avoidance
    behaviours are understudied in aquatic environments but can have significant
    implications for disease ecology and epidemiology, especially considering the
    accelerating emergence and re-emergence of parasites.
    This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Evolution of
    pathogen and parasite avoidance behaviours’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20170202
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2018


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