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Causal mechanisms underlying host specificity in bat ectoparasites



In parasites, host specificity may result either from restricted dispersal capacity or from fixed coevolutionary host-parasite adaptations. Knowledge of those proximal mechanisms leading to particular host specificity is fundamental to understand host-parasite interactions and potential coevolution of parasites and hosts. The relative importance of these two mechanisms was quantified through infection and cross-infection experiments using mites and bats as a model. Monospecific pools of parasitic mites ( Spinturni x myoti and S. andegavinus ) were subjected either to individual bats belonging to their traditional, native bat host species, or to another substitute host species within the same bat genus ( Myotis ). The two parasite species reacted differently to these treatments. S. myoti exhibited a clear preference for, and had a higher fitness on, its native host, Myotis myotis . In contrast, S. andegavinus showed no host choice, although its fitness was higher on its native host M. daubentoni . The causal mechanisms mediating host specificity can apparently differ within closely related host-parasite systems.



OecologiaSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 1, 2004

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-003-1475-1

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