Sex-biased parasitism, seasonality and sexual size dimorphism in desert rodents

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150 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated seasonality of gender differences in the patterns of flea infestation in nine rodent species to test if sex-biased parasitism in terms of mean abundance, species richness, prevalence and the level of aggregation (a) varies among hosts and between seasons, and (b) is linked to sexual size dimorphism. Sexual size differences were significant in both summer and winter in Acomys cahirinus, Gerbillus pyramidum and Meriones crassus, and in winter only in Acomys russatus, Gerbillus dasyurus, Gerbillus nanus and Sekeetamys calurus. Sexual size dimorphism was male biased except for A. russatus in which it was female biased. Manifestation of sexual differences in flea infestation was different among hosts between seasons. A significant effect of sex on mean flea abundance was found in six hosts, on mean flea species richness in five hosts and on prevalence in two hosts. Male-biased parasitism was found in summer in one host only and in winter in five hosts. Female-biased parasitism occurred in winter in A. russatus. Gender differences in the slopes of the regressions of log-transformed variances against log-transformed mean abundances occurred in three hosts. No relationship was found between sexual size dimorphism and any parasitological parameter in any season using both conventional regressions and the method of independent contrasts. Our results suggest that sex-biased parasitism is a complicated phenomenon that involves several different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
JournalOecologia
Volume146
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005

Keywords

  • Fleas
  • Rodents
  • Sex-biased parasitism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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