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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2012 Jun 19;367(1596):1770-9. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0423.

Physiological consequences of the salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on juvenile pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha): implications for wild salmon ecology and management, and for salmon aquaculture.

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Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Pink salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, are the most abundant wild salmon species and are thought of as an indicator of ecosystem health. The salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, is endemic to pink salmon habitat but these ectoparasites have been implicated in reducing local pink salmon populations in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia. This allegation arose largely because juvenile pink salmon migrate past commercial open net salmon farms, which are known to incubate the salmon louse. Juvenile pink salmon are thought to be especially sensitive to this ectoparasite because they enter the sea at such a small size (approx. 0.2 g). Here, we describe how 'no effect' thresholds for salmon louse sublethal impacts on juvenile pink salmon were determined using physiological principles. These data were accepted by environmental managers and are being used to minimize the impact of salmon aquaculture on wild pink salmon populations.

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