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In spite of obvious impacts to humans and captive animals, disease is often ignored by fisheries managers as a significant factor affecting the abundance of wild populations because the effects are difficult to observe and quantify. Historically, most fish health research has been directed towards identification, treatment, and prevention of diseases of hatchery fishes; however, more recent studies from marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments indicate that infectious and parasitic diseases can be responsible for population oscillations, extinction of endangered species, reduced host fitness and increased susceptibility to predation as well as an important component of natural mortality. The recognition of disease as a population-limiting factor for wild fish is partly the result of the emergence of high profile pathogens and changes in environmental conditions that shift the host-pathogen balance in favor of disease. This presentation will review some of the ways in which climate change is predicted to affect the ecology of fish diseases and will use several examples of endemic and emerging diseases in wild fish that have been associated with population-level effects. These examples will highlight the critical role played by environmental conditions in the ecology of fish diseases.
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