Heterosporis sutherlandae is an emerging microsporidian fish parasite in the Great Lakes region. H. sutherlandae forms lesions in the muscle tissue of fishes important to aquaculture and sport fishing. These lesions render the filet inedible and may have fitness consequences. We evaluated the prevalence and severity of H. sutherlandae among yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in a known-positive Minnesota lake, and used an equilibrium yield model to evaluate impacts on harvest. Twenty-eight percent of the 400 yellow perch sampled were infected with H. sutherlandae. Males were 1.5 times more likely to be infected than females and were more severely infected. The presence of the parasite did not vary with relative weight or age, but infection severity was highest among older individuals that were in better condition. These results suggest that males are more susceptible to infection, and that infection is not associated with maturity or a gape-limiting food source. These results also suggest that heterosporosis increases in severity with time or by increased exposure. Our equilibrium yield model found that a 10% increase in mortality due to H. sutherlandae could result in 30% and 10% reductions in yield and mean catch weight, respectively. The results of this study direct future field sampling and laboratory experiments to further understand and predict the impacts of this parasite.
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