Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 3–4, pp 545–550 | Cite as

Australia’s vanishing fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera): a case study in methods for the assessment and conservation of threatened flea species

  • Mackenzie L. Kwak


While invertebrate conservation is attracting increased funding and interest, research remains heavily skewed towards ‘flagship’ insect groups like bees and butterflies. This has resulted in a knowledge gap relating to less popular but equally imperilled groups like fleas. Methods for the risk assessment of host specific parasites were used to determine the conservation status of all host specific flea species distributed in Australia. The results indicated one species apparently extinct, two critically endangered, two endangered, and three vulnerable. Based on these results, novel methods for the conservation of threatened fleas are outlined, including the concepts of holistic conservation and the cryptic loss effect.


Flea Co-endangered Holistic conservation Parasite conservation Cryptic loss effect 



I gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Allen C.G. Heath (AgResearch Ltd., Palmerston North, New Zealand), Ricardo L. Palma (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand) and Michael W. Hastriter (Brigham Young University, Utah, USA) who kindly read over this manuscript and provided constructive criticism on its content.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares not conflicts of interest.

Informed consent

As no human subjects were involved in this work, no informed consent is required.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

No humans or live animals were involved in this work.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolutionary Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological ScienceNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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