Space-time cluster analysis of sea lice infestation (Caligus clemensi and Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on wild juvenile Pacific salmon in the Broughton Archipelago of Canada

Patanasatienkul, T and Sanchez, J and Rees, E E and Pfeiffer, D U and Revie, C W (2015) Space-time cluster analysis of sea lice infestation (Caligus clemensi and Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on wild juvenile Pacific salmon in the Broughton Archipelago of Canada. PREVENTIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE, 120 (2). pp. 219-231.

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Abstract

Sea lice infestation levels on wild chum and pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago region are known to vary spatially and temporally; however, the locations of areas associated with a high infestation level had not been investigated yet. In the present study, the multivariate spatial scan statistic based on a Poisson model was used to assess spatial clustering of elevated sea lice (Caligus clemensi and Lepeophtheirus salmonis) infestation levels on wild chum and pink salmon sampled between March and July of 2004 to 2012 in the Broughton Archipelago and Knight Inlet regions of British Columbia, Canada. Three covariates, seine type (beach and purse seining), fish size, and year effect, were used to provide adjustment within the analyses. The analyses were carried out across the five months/datasets and between two fish species to assess the consistency of the identified clusters. Sea lice stages were explored separately for the early life stages (non-motile) and the late life stages of sea lice (motile). Spatial patterns in fish migration were also explored using monthly plots showing the average number of each fish species captured per sampling site. The results revealed three clusters for non-motile C. clemensi, two clusters for non-motile L. salmonis, and one cluster for the motile stage in each of the sea lice species. In general, the location and timing of clusters detected for both fish species were similar. Early in the season, the clusters of elevated sea lice infestation levels on wild fish are detected in areas closer to the rivers, with decreasing relative risks as the season progresses. Clusters were detected further from the estuaries later in the season, accompanied by increasing relative risks. In addition, the plots for fish migration exhibit similar patterns for both fish species in that, as expected, the juveniles move from the rivers toward the open ocean as the season progresses The identification of space–time clustering of infestation on wild fish from this study can help in targeting investigations of factors associated with these infestations and thereby support the development of more effective sea lice control measures.