Reproductive consequences of female size in haematophagous ectoparasites

Daniel Kiefer, Elizabeth M. Warburton, Irina S. Khokhlova, Boris R. Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


To test relationships between maternal size, egg size and size of new offspring, we studied (a) the effect of maternal size on egg size and number, and maternal survival after oviposition and (b) the effect of egg size on the duration of development and new imago size in three flea species (Xenopsylla ramesis, Synosternus cleopatrae, Parapulex chephrenis) with varying host and habitat specificity. In general, the number and size of eggs as well as total egg volume appeared to be independent of maternal body size. There was no trade-off between egg number and size. However, female body size was related to post-oviposition survival, with larger females surviving longer after oviposition than smaller females. In addition, females that produced more eggs died faster after oviposition in X. ramesis but not in the two other species. There were no significant size differences between eggs that developed into new imagoes and eggs that did not survive. Survivorship of male and female eggs did not differ; however, new adult females were significantly larger than new adult males. Female, but not male, new imagoes exhibited a significant positive relationship between egg size and duration of preimaginal development in all three species, with larger eggs developing faster than smaller eggs. In X. ramesis and S. cleopatrae, faster developing eggs also developed into larger new imagoes. We conclude that these patterns were largely consistent among the three flea species, suggesting that they result from the same mechanisms and are weakly affected by the ecological specialization of a given species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2368-2376
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Body size
  • Development
  • Egg
  • Fleas
  • Rodents


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