A stocking program with rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) at High Rock Lake, Manitoba failed due to infections with large numbers of Contracaecum spp. larvae. Nematode larvae in the intestinal tract, body cavity and musculature made the fish unmarketable. A combination of experimental infections of rainbow trout and pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), observations on the behavior of fish-eating birds, and numbers of larval Contracaecum spp. in minnow species led to the following conclusions. The introduction of rainbow trout attracted large numbers of fish-eating birds, particularly pelicans. Concurrent predation by rainbow trout on fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas), five-spined sticklebacks (Culaea inconstans), and nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius), concentrated the parasites. The combined increase in densities of the introduced fish host and fish-eating birds, and the short life cycle of the parasite, increased the numbers of parasites in rainbow trout over a season and in the indigenous minnow species between years. Numbers of larvae in the indigenous minnow species declined when stocking of rainbow trout was stopped and use of the lake by fish-eating birds, particularly pelicans, returned to normal levels.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2