Dec 28, 2019

FLEA PARASITISM AND HOST SURVIVAL IN A PLAGUE-RELEVANT SYSTEM: THEORETICAL AND CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS

Journal of Wildlife Diseases
David A EadsTonie E Rocke

Abstract

Plague is a bacterial zoonosis of mammalian hosts and flea vectors. The disease is capable of ravaging rodent populations and transforming ecosystems. Because plague mortality is likely to be predicted by flea parasitism, it is critical to understand vector dynamics. It has been hypothesized that paltry precipitation and reduced vegetative production predispose herbivorous rodents to malnourishment and flea parasitism, and flea parasitism varies directly with plague mortality. We evaluated these hypotheses on five colonies of Utah prairie dogs (UPDs; Cynomys parvidens), on the Awapa Plateau, Utah, USA, in 2013-16. Ten flea species were identified among 3,257 fleas from UPDs. These 10 flea species parasitize prairie dogs, mice, rats, voles, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots, all known hosts of plague. The abundance of fleas on individual UPDs (1,198 observations) varied inversely with UPD body condition; fleas were most abundant on lightweight, malnourished UPDs. Flea abundance on UPDs was highest in dry years that were preceded by wet years. Increased precipitation and soil moisture in the prior year might generate humid microclimates in UPD burrows (that could facilitate flea survival and reproduction) and paltry precip...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Detected (Finding)
UDP-N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanyl-D-glutamate-L-lysine Ligase Activity
Plague
Conserved Gene Probes
Cynomys parvidens
Reproduction
Parasitic Diseases
Marmota
Spermophilus columbianus
Chipmunks

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