Functional and Evolutionary Ecology of Fleas: A Model for Ecological Parasitology

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Fleas are one of the most interesting and fascinating taxa of ectoparasites. All species in this relatively small order are obligatory haematophagous (blood-feeding) parasites of higher vertebrates. This book examines how functional, ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes of host-parasite relationships are realized in this particular system. As such, it provides an indepth case study of a host-parasite system, demonstrating how fleas can be used as a model taxon for testing ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. The book moves from basic descriptive aspects, to functional issues, and finally to evolutionary explanations. It extracts several general principles that apply equally well to other host-parasite systems, so will appeal not only to flea biologists but also to 'mainstream' parasitologists and ecologists.

About the Author:
Boris R. Krasnov is a Senior Research Scientist in the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book will predictably be a classic summation of our knowledge of the functional and evolutionary ecology of fleas. It is truly, as the title suggests, a "model for ecological parasitology," and is a welcome addition to the book shelves of all professionals and students in the fields of ecology, parasitology, and medical entomology."
Michael W. Hastriter, Entomological Society of America
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521882774
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Pages: 610
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor Boris Krasnov graduated from Moscow State University in Russia. He is now working at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and studies host-parasite relationships using mammal-ectoparasite associations as model systems.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Brief descriptive ecology: what do fleas do?
Composition of the order     3
Infraorders and families     3
Temporal pattern of discovery of flea species     4
Hosts of Siphonaptera     9
Avian and mammalian hosts     9
'Realized' and available hosts     10
Number of flea species among host orders     15
Fleas, small mammals and biogeography     16
Concluding remark     17
Geographical distribution of fleas     18
General patterns of geographical distribution     18
Fleas on islands     21
Size of geographical range     22
Relationship between flea and host(s) geographical ranges     25
Concluding remark     28
Origin and evolution of fleas     29
Ancestral and sister taxa     29
Origin of flea parasitism     32
Phylogenetic relationships within Siphonaptera     33
Cophylogeny of fleas and their hosts     34
Flea diversification: intrahost speciation, host-switching or climate?     41
Concluding remarks     44
Life cycles     45
Mating and oviposition     45
Larvae     48
Pupae     51
Imago     52
Seasonality     54
Concluding remark     67
Fleas and humanity     68
Medical aspects     68
Veterinary aspects     72
Fleas in human habitats     74
Concluding remarks     76
Functional ecology: how do fleas do what they do?
Ecology of sexual dimorphism, gender differences and sex ratio     79
Sexual dimorphism     79
Physiological gender differences     82
Gender differences in behaviour     90
Gender differences in responses to environmental factors     91
Sex ratio as an ecological consequence of gender differences     93
Concluding remarks     102
Ecology of flea locomotion     103
On-host locomotion     103
Off-host locomotion     104
Concluding remark     114
Ecology of host selection     115
Evolutionary scale: principal and auxiliary hosts     116
Ecological scale: host selection     122
Fleas and the ideal free distribution     130
Distribution of fleas on the body of a host     141
Time spent on- and off-host     147
Concluding remarks     153
Ecology of haematophagy     154
Mouthparts and host skin     154
Measures of feeding success     156
Host-related effects     162
Flea-related effects     173
Environment-related effects     178
Concluding remarks     181
Ecology of reproduction and pre-imaginal development     182
Measures of reproductive success     182
Host-related effects     185
Flea-related effects     199
Environment-related effects     206
Concluding remarks     216
Ecology of flea virulence     217
Host metabolic rate     218
Host body mass and growth rate     223
Host haematological parameters     227
Host features related to sexual selection     228
Host behaviour     229
Host survival     232
Host fitness     235
Concluding remarks     237
Ecology of host defence     239
First line of defence: avoidance     240
Second line of defence: repelling or killing fleas     243
Third line of defence: immune response against fleas     255
Concluding remarks      278
Evolutionary ecology: why do fleas do what they do?
Ecology and evolution of host specificity     283
Measures of host specificity     283
Variation in host specificity among flea species     285
Host specificity and evolutionary success     295
Host specificity and host features     303
Evolution of host specificity: direction, reversibility and conservatism     308
Applicative aspects of host specificity studies     314
Concluding remarks     320
Ecology of flea populations     321
Measuring abundance and distribution     322
Is abundance a flea species character?     324
Aggregation of fleas among host individuals     328
Biases in flea infestation     338
Relationship between flea abundance and prevalence     352
Factors affecting flea abundance and distribution     356
Concluding remarks     374
Ecology of flea communities     375
Are flea communities structured?     377
Local versus regional processes governing flea communities     386
Inferring patterns of interspecific interactions     391
Negative interspecific interactions     401
Similarity in flea communities: geographical distance or similarity in host composition?     405
Concluding remarks     408
Patterns of flea diversity     410
Flea diversity and host body     411
Flea diversity and host gender     415
Flea diversity and host population     415
Flea diversity and host community     417
Flea diversity and host geographical range     424
Flea diversity and the off-host environment     425
Flea diversity and parasites of other taxa     431
Concluding remarks     435
Fleas, hosts, habitats     436
The Middle East     437
Central Europe     443
Other examples     451
Concluding remarks     454
What further efforts are needed?     455
Where we are now and what do we have?     456
What do we lack?     458
Not only a pure science...     463
References     466
Index     583
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