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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Mackenzie L. Kwak.

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Kwak, M.L. Australia’s vanishing fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera): a case study in methods for the assessment and conservation of threatened flea species. J Insect Conserv 22, 545–550 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-018-0083-7

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Keywords

  • Flea
  • Co-endangered
  • Holistic conservation
  • Parasite conservation
  • Cryptic loss effect