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Appears in Collections:Computing Science and Mathematics eTheses
Title: Mathematical models for investigating the long-term impact of Gyrodactylus salaris infections on Atlantic salmon populations
Author(s): Denholm, Scott J.
Supervisor(s): Norman, Rachel
Shinn, Andrew
Hoyle, Andrew
Taylor, Nicholas G H
Keywords: Mathematical modelling
Gyrodactylus salaris
Atlantic salmon
multiple strains
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Gyrodactylus salaris Malmberg, 1957, is a notifiable freshwater ecto-parasite that infects both wild and farmed populations of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, L.). It has caused catastrophic damage to wild salmon stocks in Norway since its accidental introduction in 1975, reducing salmon density in some rivers by 98% over a period of five years. It is estimated that G. salaris has cost the Norwegian salmon industry more than 500 million EUR. Currently the UK has G. salaris free status under EU law, however, it is believed that if G. salaris emerged in the UK the impact would be similar to that witnessed in Norway. The aim of this thesis is to develop mathematical models that describe the salmon-G. salaris system in order to gain a greater understanding of the possible long-term impact the parasite may have on wild populations of Atlantic salmon in G. salaris-free territories such as the UK. Mathematical models, including deterministic, Leslie matrix and individual based models, were used to investigate the impact of G. salaris on Atlantic salmon at the individual and population level. It is known that the Atlantic strain of Atlantic salmon, examples of which occur naturally in Norway and the UK, does not have any resistance to G. salaris infections and the parasite population is able to quickly grow to epidemic levels. In contrast, the Baltic strain of Atlantic salmon, examples of which occur naturally in Sweden and Russia, exhibits some form of resistance and the parasite is unable to persist. Thus, baseline models were extended to include immunity to infection, a trade-off on salmon reproductive rate, and finally, to consider interactions between populations of G. salaris and multiple strains of salmon exhibiting varying levels of immunity from fully susceptible to resistant. The models proposed predict that in the absence of host resistance or an immune response infections by G. salaris will result in an epidemic followed by the extinction of the salmon host population. Models also predict that if salmon are able to increase their resistance to G. salaris infections through mutations, salmon population recovery after the epidemic is indeed possible within 10-15 years post introduction with low level parasite coexistence. Finally, models also highlight areas where additional information is needed in order to improve predictions and enable the estimation of important parameter values. Model predictions will ultimately be used to assist in future contingency planning against G. salaris outbreaks in the UK and possibly as a basis for future models describing other fish/ecto-parasite systems.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences
Computing Science and Mathematics

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