Parasitology Research

, 101:365 | Cite as

Between-host phylogenetic distance and feeding efficiency in hematophagous ectoparasites: rodent fleas and a bat host

  • Boris R. KrasnovEmail author
  • Carmi Korine
  • Nadezhda V. Burdelova
  • Irina S. Khokhlova
  • Berry Pinshow
Original Paper


We hypothesized that a parasite exploits most effectively its principal host, less effectively a host that is phylogenetically close to its principal host, and least effectively a host that is phylogenetically distant from its principal host. We tested this hypothesis by quantifying the feeding efficiency of two flea species (Parapulex chephrenis and Xenopsylla ramesis) on two rodents, Acomys cahirinus, the specific host of P. chephrenis, and Meriones crassus, a preferred host of X. ramesis, and one bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus, an alien host to both flea species. In both fleas, fewer individuals succeed in feeding when offered with their nonspecific or nonpreferred rodent host to feed on compared with those allowed to feed on their preferred or specific rodent host or, surprisingly, on a bat. The proportion of P. chephrenis that fed was higher on A. cahirinus than on R. aegyptiacus. In contrast, similar proportions of X. ramesis took blood from M. crassus and R. aegyptiacus. The mass-independent size of the blood meal taken by the fleas differed significantly between species, being higher in X. ramesis than in P. chephrenis. However, each flea species took similar amounts of blood from any of the three host species. The duration of early, middle, and late digestion stages differed significantly between P. chephrenis and Xenopsylla conformis, all being shorter in the former, independent of the source of blood. Both fleas digested bat blood significantly faster than the blood of either rodent host. The time of survival after a single blood meal differed significantly between flea species, with X. ramesis surviving significantly longer than P. chephrenis, although no effect of host species on flea survival was found. In terms of the evaluation criteria that we used, we concluded that (a) the alien bat host appeared not to be inferior as a source of food to a rodent host phylogenetically close to the flea’s principal host and (b) that the rarity of finding rodent fleas on bats is not related to the feeding efficiency of the fleas.


Host Species Blood Meal Spiny Mouse Flea Species Rodent Host 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was partly supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 249/04 to BRK and ISK). This is publication number 557 of the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology and number 226 of the Ramon Science Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris R. Krasnov
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carmi Korine
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nadezhda V. Burdelova
    • 2
  • Irina S. Khokhlova
    • 3
  • Berry Pinshow
    • 1
  1. 1.Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevMidreshet Ben-GurionIsrael
  2. 2.Ramon Science CenterMizpe RamonIsrael
  3. 3.Desert Animal Adaptations and Husbandry, Wyler Department of Dryland AgricultureJacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the NegevMidreshet Ben-GurionIsrael

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