ABS 2022
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Parasite-induced variation of individual and group behaviour in guppies
Angela Albi1, Jacob Davidson2, Jessica Stephenson3, Sandra Binning4, Iain Couzin5. 1Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Outside US/Canada, Germany; 2Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Outside US/Canada, Germany; 3University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, , United States; 4Université de Montréal, Montréal, , Canada; 5Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Outside US/Canada, Germany

In the ecology of fish, parasites often induce multidimensional changes by altering morphology, physiology and movement abilities. However the details of how parasites affect host behavioral phenotypes are not fully understood. With this study, we look at how the ectoparasite Gyrodactylus affects both individual and social behaviour of guppies. We find that parasites do not induce unidirectional changes on the host’s physiology or kinematics. However, a minority of the infected fish reach higher critical swimming speeds and increase pectoral fin use at low flow speeds. When in social contexts, infected guppies spend more time in isolation, increase nearest-neighbor distance and swim at the periphery of big groups. Moreover, after a group fission, parasitized fish are more likely to join smaller groups or to be isolated. These results are partly explained by changes in individual relative swimming speed, but it remains unclear whether uninfected group members also use an active avoidance mechanism. Overall, we show how physiological and behavioural measures can be used in the context of sickness behaviour research to better understand the role of disease for group living organisms.