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Title: Sex differences in flea infections among rodent hosts: is there a male bias?
Authors: Kowalski, Krzysztof
Bogdziewicz, Michał
Eichert, Urszula
Rychlik, Leszek
Keywords: sex-biased parasitism
flea abundance
body mass
small mammals
Apodemus agrarius
Apodemus flavicollis
Myodes glareolus
Issue Date: 2015
Citation: Parasitology Research, 2015, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 337-341
Abstract: Recognizing patterns of parasite distribution among wildlife hosts is of major importance due to growing risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Thus, sex-dependent parasite distribution in higher vertebrates is extensively studied, and males are often found more parasit- ized than females. Male-biased parasitism may be the result of weaker immunocompetence of male hosts owing to the im- munosuppressive effect of androgens. Moreover, larger hosts (males) may demonstrate higher parasite infestation levels than smaller individuals (females), as they constitute a better nutritional resource for parasites and provide them with a greater variety of niches. In the present work, we investigated sex-dependent patterns of flea distribution among three com- mon rodent species (Apodemus agrarius, Apodemus flavicollis, and Myodes glareolus). We hypothesized that males have a higher flea infestation than females. We confirm male-biased parasitism in A. agrarius and M. glareolus, but not in A. flavicollis. Additionally, flea infestation increased with body mass in A. agrarius, but not in A. flavicollis and M. glareolus. The detected differences in parasite distribution among sexes are probably the result of immunosuppressive effects of androgens and spatial behavior of males.
Sponsorship: The research was supported by the Science and Technology Foundation (Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education), grant no. SFRH/BD/ 31602/2006 and the budget of the Department of Systematic Zoology (Faculty of Biology AMU, Poznań )
DOI: 10.1007/s00436-014-4231-z
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