A model for sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) dynamics in a seasonally changing environment

Matthew A. Rittenhouse, Crawford W. Revie, Amy Hurford

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Abstract

Sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) are a significant source of monetary losses on salmon farms. Sea lice exhibit temperature-dependent development rates and salinity-dependent mortality, but to date no deterministic models have incorporated these seasonally varying factors. To understand how environmental variation and life history characteristics affect sea lice abundance, we derive a delay differential equation model and parameterize the model with environmental data from British Columbia and southern Newfoundland. We calculate the lifetime reproductive output for female sea lice maturing to adulthood at different times of the year and find differences in the timing of peak reproduction between the two regions. Using a sensitivity analysis, we find that sea lice abundance is more sensitive to variation in mean annual water temperature and mean annual salinity than to variation in life history parameters. Our results suggest that effective sea lice management requires consideration of site-specific temperature and salinity patterns and, in particular, that the optimal timing of production cycles and sea lice treatments might vary between regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalEpidemics
Volume16
Early online date26 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016

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Keywords

  • aquaculture
  • sea lice
  • delay differential equations
  • seasonality
  • mathematical models
  • salmon farming
  • computational modelling

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