Fitness responses to co-infestation in fleas exploiting rodent hosts

Irina S. Khokhlova, Elizabeth M. Dlugosz, Boris R. Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To understand mechanisms behind positive interspecific co-occurrences in flea infracommunities, we asked whether co-infestation results in an increase of flea fitness (quantity and/or quality of the offspring). We studied reproductive performance of Xenopsylla ramesis and Parapulex chephrenis when they exploited their characteristic host (Meriones crassus and Acomys cahirinus, respectively) either alone or together with another species. We used egg production, the number of new imagoes, pre-imaginal survival and egg size as fitness-related variables and predicted that fitness will be higher in fleas feeding in mixed- than in single-species groups. In both fleas, mean number of eggs produced per female flea did not depend on experimental treatment. No effect of single- vs mixed-species infestation on the mean number of new imagoes per female and the number of emerged imagoes per egg was found for X. ramesis, whereas both these numbers were higher in mixed- than in single-species groups for P. chephrenis. X. ramesis produced eggs of similar size independently of treatment, whereas eggs produced by P. chephrenis in mixed-species groups were significantly larger than eggs produced in single-species groups. We conclude that an increase in reproductive performance as a response to co-infestation may be one of the mechanisms behind aggregative structure of flea infracommunities. However, this response may vary among flea species.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1535-1542
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Aggregation
  • co-infestation
  • fitness
  • infracommunity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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