Feeding performance of fleas on different host species: Is phylogenetic distance between hosts important?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We asked if and how feeding performance of fleas on an auxiliary host is affected by the phylogenetic distance between this host and the principal host of a flea. We investigated the feeding of 2 flea species, Parapulex chephrenis and Xenopsylla ramesis, on a principal (Acomys cahirinus and Meriones crassus, respectively) and 8 auxiliary host species. We predicted that fleas would perform better (higher proportion of fleas would feed and take larger bloodmeals) on (a) a principal rather than an auxiliary host and (b) auxiliary hosts phylogenetically closer to a principal host. Although feeding performance of fleas differed among different hosts, we found that: (1) fleas did not always perform better on a principal host than on an auxiliary host; and (2) flea performance on an auxiliary host was not negatively correlated with phylogenetic distance of this host from the principal host. In some cases, fleas fed better on hosts that were phylogenetically distant from their principal host. We concluded that variation in flea feeding performance among host species results from interplay between (a) inherent species-specific host defence abilities, (b) inherent species-specific flea abilities to withstand host defences and (c) evolutionary tightness of association between a particular host species and a particular flea species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • auxiliary host
  • bloodmeal size
  • fleas
  • host specificity
  • phylogenetic distance
  • rodents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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