Symposium 2008: Parasites as Agents of Selection in Fish: from genes to ecosystems, Cardiff University UK 21-25 July

Parasites are increasingly recognised by biologists as important mediators of ecological interactions and agents of natural and sexual selection in host populations. Fish serve as hosts to a wide range of 'conventional' parasitic organisms (i.e. agents of disease such as viruses, fungi, lice and worms), and have proven to be extremely good models for testing key hypotheses in lab and field research. Furthermore, investment in courtship and parental behaviour risks parasitism by conspecifics that engage in 'sneaky' mating tactics. There is currently considerable interest in the impacts of both 'conventional' heterospecific parasites, and conspecific 'cuckoos' on the fitness of host individuals and the consequences of parasitism for populations and communities. This meeting addresses some of the most relevant and pressing research themes in fish parasitology, behaviour and evolutionary ecology


Information on the scientific programme will be updated regularly. We expect to hold sessions based around the following major themes.

  1. Parasites, genes and evolution: detection and avoidance of infective agents; host-parasite co-evolution; immune genes and parasite infection; virulence and local adaptation in host-parasite interactions.
  2. Fitness consequences of infections: effects on host physiology, behaviour, growth and development; parasites and sexual selection in fish; pathology of infection.
  3. Ecological implications of parasitism: population, community and ecosystem consequences of parasite infections; brood parasitism in fish; the ecology and evolution of cleaner fish symbioses.
  4. Host-parasite interactions in altered environments: impacts of climate change, habitat degradation and aquatic pollutants on host-parasite interactions; the implications of species introductions for host-parasite interactions.

Jack Jones Lecture:

Kevin Lafferty (USA) Ecosystem consequences of fish parasites

Keynote speaker:

Lexa Grutter (Australia) Ecology and evolution of cleaning symbioses in fish
Plenary lectures: Steve Feist (UK) Pathology of fish parasite infections
Mathias Wegner (Switzerland) The role of Mhc genes in host-parasite interactions
Bernd Sures (Germany) Host-parasite interactions in polluted environments


Scientific Organising Committee

Iain Barber (Leicester) Co-Convener
Joanne Cable (Cardiff) Co-Convener
Andrew McColl (Nottingham)
Carl Smith (Leicester)