Host body microcosm and ectoparasite infracommunities: Arthropod ectoparasites are not spatially segregated

Shai Pilosof, Marcela Lareschi, Boris R. Krasnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the distribution of ectoparasite species (an ixodid tick, a chigger mite, 7 mesostigmate mites, 5 fleas and 3 lice) on bodies of 5 species of rodent hosts from the marshlands in Argentina to establish whether arthropod ectoparasites are segregated across body parts of the same host individual. We asked (a) whether an individual ectoparasite species prefers certain parts of the body of its host and, if yes, whether these preferences overlap among ectoparasite species; (b) whether ectoparasite species composition differs among different parts of a host's body; and (c) whether co-occurrences of ectoparasite species within pre-defined body parts of a host are non-random and, if yes, whether ectoparasites co-occur in the same body part of a host either less or more often than expected by chance. It was found that, in general, ectoparasite species were not segregated across body parts of a host. Although some ectoparasites preferred certain body parts, these preferences were similar among ectoparasites belonging to different species and/or higher taxa resulting in similarity among host body parts in ectoparasite species composition. In addition, ectoparasite species demonstrated a tendency to co-occur on the same body parts of a host and not to be segregated among them. It was concluded that the distribution of ectoparasites on the body of a small mammalian host is driven mainly by their interaction with the host rather than by distinct preferences or interactions among ectoparasite species.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1739-1748
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • body part
  • co-occurrence
  • ectoparasites
  • grooming
  • rodents
  • similarity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Parasitology


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