Fitness consequences of host colonization in two generalist fleas: Context-dependency and the effect of spatial co-occurrence

Nadezhda A. Stavtseva, Laura J. Fielden, Irina S. Khokhlova, Boris R. Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We studied the fitness consequences of colonizing a novel host by experimental lines of fleas (Synosternus cleopatrae and Xenopsylla ramesis) maintained for 18–22 generations on the principal or novel (sympatric or allopatric) hosts via number, developmental success and size of the offspring of the fleas exploiting these hosts. We asked whether (a) fitness on non-principal hosts increases after prolonged maintenance; (b) the colonization success depends on the spatial co-occurrence of a flea and a host and (c) colonization of a novel host is accompanied by a decreased ability to exploit an original host. The ability of fleas to colonize novel hosts differed between species, with S. cleopatrae, but not X. ramesis, increasing its offspring production on novel hosts. Spatial co-occurrence did not affect colonization success. Maintenance on an alternative host was not accompanied by decreased adaptation to the original host. When fleas returned to the original host, their reproductive output was higher than that of their ancestors. We conclude that the success of colonizing a novel host is (a) context-dependent and varies between flea and host species and (b) not accompanied by the loss of ability to exploit an ancestral host but may lead to an increase in this ability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • allopatric
  • colonization
  • fitness
  • flea
  • principal host
  • sympatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Veterinary (all)
  • Insect Science

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