Parasites seldom have predators but often fall victim to those of their hosts. How parasites respond to host predation can have important consequences for both hosts and parasites, though empirical investigations are rare. The exposure of wild juvenile salmon to sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) from salmon farms allowed us to study a novel ecological interaction: the response of sea lice to predation on their juvenile pink and chum salmon hosts by two salmonid predators-coho smolts and cut-throat trout. In approximately 70% of trials in which a predator consumed a parasitized prey, lice escaped predation by swimming or moving directly onto the predator. This trophic transmission is strongly male biased, probably because behaviour and morphology constrain female movement and transmission. These findings highlight the potential for sea lice to be transmitted up marine food webs in areas of intensive salmon aquaculture, with implications for louse population dynamics and predatory salmonid health.
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