Assessing the Present and Future Habitat Suitability of Caligus rogercresseyi (Boxshall and Bravo, 2000) for Salmon Farming in Southern Chile

Manuel Lepe-Lopez, Joaquín Escobar-Dodero, Natalia Zimin-Veselkoff, Claudio Azat, Fernando O. Mardones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The sea louse (Caligus rogercresseyi) is the most relevant parasite for the farmed salmon industry in Chile, the second largest producer worldwide. Although spatial patterns of C. rogercresseyi have been addressed from data obtained from established monitoring and surveillance programs, studies on its spatial ecology are limited. A wide geographic distribution of C. rogercresseyi is presumed in Chile; however, how this species could potentially be distributed in space is unknown. Our study presents an analysis of the habitat suitability for C. rogercresseyi in the entire area occupied by marine sites of salmon farms in Chile. Habitat suitability modeling was used to explore the likelihood of species spatial occurrence based on environmental characteristics. Due to the expanding salmon industry in southern Chile, we studied C. rogercresseyi habitat suitability models for present (average of 2005–2010) and two future projections (2050 and 2100) under different climate change scenarios. Models were constructed with the maxent algorithm using a large database of spatial C. rogercresseyi occurrences from the Chilean fisheries health authority and included 23 environmental variables obtained from the Ocean Rasters for Analysis of Climate and Environment (Bio-ORACLE). Habitat suitability models indicated that water temperature, water salinity, and current velocity of waters were the most important characteristics limiting C. rogercresseyi distribution in southern Chile. Habitat suitability models for current climate indicated a heterogeneous pattern with C. rogercresseyi being present in waters with temperature range 12.12–7.08°C (sd = 0.65), salinity range 33.7–25.5 pss (sd = 1.73), and current water velocity range 0.23–0.01 m−1 (sd = 0.02). Predictions for future projections in year 2050 and year 2100 suggest new clumped dispersion of the environmental conditions for C. rogercresseyi establishment. Our results suggest complexity and a wide dispersion of the biogeographic distribution of the C. rogercresseyi habitat suitability with potential implications for control strategies and environmental issues for salmon farming in Chile. Further investigations are required into C. rogercresseyi distribution in southern Chile considering the possible effect of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number615039
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2021


  • aquaculture
  • climate change
  • copepod
  • ecological modeling
  • habitat suitability model
  • maximum entropy
  • salmon farming
  • sea lice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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