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1 December 2006 Abundance patterns of two Oropsylla (Ceratophyllidae: Siphonaptera) species on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) hosts
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Behavioral, genetic, and immune variation within a host population may lead to aggregation of parasites whereby a small proportion of hosts harbor a majority of parasites. In situations where two or more parasite species infect the same host population there is the potential for interaction among parasites that could potentially influence patterns of aggregation through either competition or facilitation. We studied the occurrence and abundance patterns of two congeneric flea species on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) hosts to test for interactions among parasite species. We live-trapped prairie dogs on ten sites in Boulder County, CO and collected their fleas. We found a non-random, positive association between the two flea species, Oropsylla hirsuta and O. tuberculata cynomuris; hosts with high loads of one flea species had high loads of the second species. This result suggests that there is no interspecific competition among fleas on prairie dog hosts. Host weight had a weak negative relationship to flea load and host sex did not influence flea load, though there were slight differences in flea prevalence and abundance between male and female C. ludovicianus. While genetic and behavioral variation among hosts may predispose certain individuals to infection, our results indicate apparent facilitation among flea species that may result from immune suppression or other flea-mediated factors.

R. Jory Brinkerhoff, Amelia B. Markeson, Jason H. Knouft, Kenneth L. Gage, and John A. Montenieri "Abundance patterns of two Oropsylla (Ceratophyllidae: Siphonaptera) species on black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) hosts," Journal of Vector Ecology 31(2), 355-363, (1 December 2006).[355:APOTOC]2.0.CO;2
Received: 16 May 2006; Accepted: 28 July 2006; Published: 1 December 2006

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