Ectoparasites, fitness, and social behaviour of yellow-bellied marmots

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1996
Authors:D. van Vuren
Pagination:686 - 694
Date Published:1996
Keywords:cliff, coloniality, cost, dispersal, Dog Diseases, group, Natal, parasitism, Parus, swallows

Parasites can cause a loss of fitness for their hosts, potentially influencing social behaviour patterns of the host that promote or hinder parasite transmission. I studied yellow- bellied marmots (Marmoto flaviventris) and their ectoparasites to determine if ectoparasites reduce the fitness of marmots and to test whether ectoparasite loads differ according to social behaviour. Three taxa of ectoparasites were identified, fleas (Oropsylla stanfordi), lice (Linognathoides marmotae), and mites (family Dermanyssidae). nigh ectoparasite loads were related to slower growth, lower overwinter survival, and reduced reproduction, suggesting that ectoparasites are a fitness cost for marmots. Ectoparasite loads were not higher in colonial than in noncolonial marmots, nor in polygynous than in monogamous adult males. There was a trend, however, toward higher ectoparasite lords in marmots that were dispersing rather than philopatric. Further, ectoparasite loads differed among groups of marmots that nested or hibernated communally, indicating that spatial scale is important in understanding the relationships between parasites and social behaviour.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith