Infected juvenile salmon can experience increased predation during freshwater migration.

Academic Article


  • Predation risk for animal migrants can be impacted by physical condition. Although size- or condition-based selection is often observed, observing infection-based predation is rare due to the difficulties in assessing infectious agents in predated samples. We examined predation of outmigrating sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) smolts by bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in south-central British Columbia, Canada. We used a high-throughput quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) platform to screen for the presence of 17 infectious agents found in salmon and assess 14 host genes associated with viral responses. In one (2014) of the two years assessed (2014 and 2015), the presence of infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNv) resulted in 15-26 times greater chance of predation; in 2015 IHNv was absent among all samples, predated or not. Thus, we provide further evidence that infection can impact predation risk in migrants. Some smolts with high IHNv loads also exhibited gene expression profiles consistent with a virus-induced disease state. Nine other infectious agents were observed between the two years, none of which were associated with increased selection by bull trout. In 2014, richness of infectious agents was also associated with greater predation risk. This is a rare demonstration of predator consumption resulting in selection for prey that carry infectious agents. The mechanism by which this selection occurs is not yet determined. By culling infectious agents from migrant populations, fish predators could provide an ecological benefit to prey.
  • Authors

  • Furey, Nathaniel
  • Bass, Arthur L
  • Miller, Kristi M
  • Li, Shaorong
  • Lotto, Andrew G
  • Healy, Stephen J
  • Drenner, S Matthew
  • Hinch, Scott G
  • Publication Date

  • March 24, 2021
  • Published In


  • disease ecology
  • infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus
  • migration ecology
  • migratory culling
  • predation risk
  • predator–prey interactions
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 201522
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 3