Digging for answers : contributions of density- and frequency-dependent factors on ectoparasite burden in a social mammal

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dc.contributor.author Archer, Elizabeth K.
dc.contributor.author Bennett, Nigel C., 1961-
dc.contributor.author Faulkes, Christopher G., 1959-
dc.contributor.author Lutermann, Heike
dc.date.accessioned 2016-03-11T06:19:25Z
dc.date.issued 2016-02
dc.description.abstract Due to the density-dependent nature of parasite transmission parasites are generally assumed to constrain the evolution of sociality. However, evidence for a correlation between group size and parasite burden is equivocal, particularly for mammals. Host contact rates may be modified by mobility of the host and parasite as well as social barriers. In the current study, we used the common mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus), a social subterranean rodent, as a model system to investigate the effect of host density and frequency of contact rates on ectoparasite burdens. To address these factors we used a study species that naturally varies in population densities and intergroup contact rates across its geographic range. We found that ectoparasite prevalence, abundance and species richness decreased with increasing host density at a regional scale. At the same time, measures of parasite burden increased with intergroup contact rates. Ectoparasite burdens decreased with colony size at the group level possibly as a result of increased grooming rates. Equating group size with population density might be too simplistic an approach when assessing parasite distributions in social mammals. Our data suggest that frequency-dependent mechanisms may play a much greater role at a population level than density-dependent mechanisms in determining parasite distributions in social species. We suggest that future studies should explicitly consider behavioural mechanisms that may affect parasite distribution. en_ZA
dc.description.embargo 2017-02-26
dc.description.librarian hb2015 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship NRF-SAR Chair for Mammalian Behavioural Ecology and Physiology to NCB.University of Pretoria Research Fellowship. en_ZA
dc.description.uri http://link.springer.com/journal/442 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Archer, EK, Bennett, NC, Faulkes, CG & Lutermann, H 2016, 'Digging for answers : contributions of frequency- and density-dependent', Oecologia, vol. 180, no. 2, pp. 429-438. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 0029-8549 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1432-1939 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1007/s00442-015-3494-0
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/51777
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Springer en_ZA
dc.rights © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015. The original publication is available at : http://link.springer.comjournal/442. en_ZA
dc.subject Cryptomys en_ZA
dc.subject Ectoparasite en_ZA
dc.subject Group size en_ZA
dc.subject Parasite transmission en_ZA
dc.subject Sociality en_ZA
dc.title Digging for answers : contributions of density- and frequency-dependent factors on ectoparasite burden in a social mammal en_ZA
dc.type Postprint Article en_ZA


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