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1 June 2008 Geographic variation in rodent-flea relationships in the presence of black-tailed prairie dog colonies
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We characterized the relationship between fleas and their rodent hosts in the presence of prairie dog colonies and compared them to adjacent assemblages away from colonies. We evaluated the rodent-flea relationship by quantifying prevalence, probability of infestation, flea load, and intensity of fleas on rodents. As prairie dog burrows provide refugia for fleas, we hypothesized that prevalence, flea load, and intensity would be higher for rodents that are associated with blacktailed prairie dog colonies. Rodents were trapped at off- and on-colony grids, resulting in the collection of 4,509 fleas from 1,430 rodents in six study areas. The rodent community composition varied between these study areas. Flea species richness was not different between prairie dog colonies and the surrounding grasslands (p = 0.883) but was positively correlated with rodent species richness (p = 0.055). Prairie dog colonies did not increase the prevalence of fleas (p > 0.10). Flea loads on rodents did not vary between off- and on-colony grids at three of the study areas (p > 0.10). Based on the prevalence, infestation rates, and flea loads, we identified Peromyscus maniculatus, Onychomys leucogaster, and two Neotoma species as important rodent hosts for fleas and Aetheca wagneri, Orchopeus leucopus, Peromyscopsylla hesperomys, Pleochaetis exilis, and Thrassis fotus as the most important fleas associated with these rodents. Prairie dog colonies did not seem to facilitate transmission of fleas between rodent hosts, and the few rodent-flea associations exhibited significant differences between off- and on-colony grids.

Bala Thiagarajan, Jack F. Cully, Thomas M. Loughin, John A. Montenieri, and Kenneth L. Gage "Geographic variation in rodent-flea relationships in the presence of black-tailed prairie dog colonies," Journal of Vector Ecology 33(1), 178-190, (1 June 2008).[178:GVIRRI]2.0.CO;2
Received: 16 March 2007; Accepted: 10 March 2008; Published: 1 June 2008

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