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A geographic hot spot of Ichthyophonus infection in the southern Salish Sea, USA

October 17, 2019

The prevalence of Ichthyophonus infection in Pacific herring Clupea pallasii was spatially heterogeneous in the southern Salish Sea, Washington State, USA. Over the course of 13 mo, 2232 Pacific herring were sampled from 38 midwater trawls throughout the region. Fork length was positively correlated with Ichthyophonus infection at all sites. After controlling for the positive relationship between host size and Ichthyophonus infection, the probability of infection was approximately 6-fold higher in North Hood Canal than in Puget Sound and the northern Straits (12 vs. 2% predicted probability for a 100 mm fish and 30 vs. 7% predicted probability for a 180 mm fish). Temporal changes in Ichthyophonus infection probability were explained by seasonal differences in fish length, owing to Pacific herring life history and movement patterns. Reasons for the spatial heterogeneity remain uncertain but may be associated with density-dependent factors inherent to the boom-bust cycles that commonly occur in clupeid populations.