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Positive co-occurrence of flea infestation at a low biological cost in two rodent hosts in the Canary archipelago

Sanchez S., Serrano E., Gomez M.S., Feliu C., Morand S.. 2014. Parasitology, 141 (04) : p. 511-521.

DOI: 10.1017/S0031182013001753

Non-random assemblages have been described as a common pattern of flea co-occurrence across mainland host species. However, to date, patterns of flea co-occurrence on islands are unknown. The present work investigates, on one hand, whether the decrease in the number of species on islands affects the pattern of flea co-occurrence, and on the other hand, how the cost of higher flea burdens affects host body mass. The study was carried out in the Canary Islands (Spain) using null models to analyse flea co-occurrence on Rattus rattus and Mus musculus. Results supported aggregation of flea species in Mus but not in Rattus, probably due to the relationship between abundance and both prevalence and intensity of infection of the main flea species parasitizing Mus. In addition, heavy individuals of both rodent species showed the highest flea burdens as well as higher species richness, probably due to the continued accumulation of fleas throughout life and/or immunological resistance mechanisms. Whatever the mechanisms involved, it is clear that co-occurrence and high parasite intensities do not imply a detrimental biological cost for the rodents of the Canary Islands.

Mots-clés : mus; rattus; siphonaptera; parasitologie; modèle; canaries (îles); mus musculus; rattus rattus

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