Larvae of the eye fluke, Diplostomum, emerge from snails and infect fish by penetrating skin or gills, then move to the lens where they may impair the vision of the fish. For the fluke to reproduce, a bird must eat the infected fish, and it has been suggested that they therefore actively manipulate the fish’s behaviour to increase the risk of predation. We found that round gobies Neogobius melanostomus, a species that was recently introduced to the Kalmar Sound of the Baltic Sea, had an eye fluke prevalence of 90–100%. We investigated how the infection related to behavioural variation in round gobies. Our results showed that the more intense the parasite-induced cataract, the weaker the host’s response was to simulated avian attack. The eye flukes did not impair other potentially important anti-predator behaviours, such as shelter use, boldness and the preference for shade. Our results are in accordance with the suggestion that parasites induce changes in host behaviour that will facilitate transfer to their final host.
- Anti-predator behaviour
- Biological invasion