Host identity, habitat type, season, and interspecific interactions were investigated as determinants of the community structure of fleas on wild carnivores in northwestern Mexico. A total of 540 fleas belonging to seven species was collected from 64 wild carnivores belonging to eight species. We found that the abundances of some flea species are explained by season and host identity. Pulex irritans and Echidnophaga gallinacea abundances were significantly higher in spring than in fall season. Flea communities on carnivore hosts revealed three clusters with a high degree of similarity within each group that was explained by the flea dominance of E. gallinacea, P. simulans, and P. irritans across host identity. Flea abundances did not differ statistically among habitat types. Finally, we found a negative correlation between the abundances of three flea species within wild carnivore hosts. Individual hosts with high loads of P. simulans males usually had significantly lower loads of P. irritans males or tend to have lower loads of E. gallinacea fleas and vice-versa. Additionally, the logistic regression model showed that the presence of P. simulans males is more likely to occur in wild carnivore hosts in which P. irritans males are absent and vice-versa. These results suggest that there is an apparent competitive exclusion among fleas on wild carnivores. The study of flea community structure on wild carnivores is important to identify the potential flea vectors for infectious diseases and provide information needed to design programs for human health and wildlife conservation.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1