The use of measures of host infestation as a reliable indicator of a flea population size to be used in interspecific comparisons was considered. The abundance of fleas collected from host bodies and collected from host burrows was compared among 55 flea species, controlling for the effect of flea phylogeny. The mean number of fleas on host bodies correlated positively with the mean number of fleas in host burrows/nests both when the entire data pool was analysed and for separate subsets of data on 'fur' fleas and 'nest' fleas. This was also true for a within-host (Microtus californicus) between-flea comparison. The results of this study demonstrate that, in general, the index of host body infestation by fleas can be used reliably as an indicator of the entire population size.
- Host body
- Host burrow