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Title: Host specificity in bat ectoparasites: A natural experiment
Authors: Seneviratne, Sampath S.
Fernando, H. Chandrika
Udagama-Randeniya, Preethi V.
Keywords: Bat
Cave rosot
Host–parasite associations
Host specificity
Sri Lanka
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: International Journal for Parasitology
Citation: 25
Abstract: We undertook a field study to determine patterns of specialisation of ectoparasites in cave-dwelling bats in Sri Lanka. The hypothesis tested was that strict host specificity (monoxeny) could evolve through the development of differential species preferences through association with the different host groups. Three species of cave-dwelling bats were chosen to represent a wide range of host–parasite associations (monoxeny to polyxeny), and both sympatric and allopatric roosting assemblages. Of the eight caves selected, six caves were ‘‘allopatric” roosts where two of each housed only one of the three host species examined: Rousettus leschenaulti (Pteropodidae), Rhinolophus rouxi and Hipposideros speoris (Rhinolophidae). The remaining two caves were ‘‘sympatric” roosts and housed all three host species. Thirty bats of each species were examined for ectoparasites in each cave, which resulted in a collection of nycteribiid and streblid flies, an ischnopsyllid bat flea, argasid and ixodid ticks, and mites belonging to three families. The host specificity of bat parasites showed a trend to monoxeny in which 70% of the 30 species reported were monoxenous. Odds ratios derived from v2-tests revealed two levels of host preferences in less-specific parasites (i) the parasite was found on two host species under conditions of both host sympatry and host allopatry, with a preference for a single host in the case of host sympatry and (ii) the preference for a single host was very high, hence under conditions of host sympatry, it was confined to the preferred host only.However,underconditionsofhostallopatry, itutilizedbothhosts.Thereappearstobeanincreasing prevalence in host preferences of the parasites toward confinement to a single host species. The ecological isolation of the bat hosts and a long history of host–parasite co-existence could have contributed to an overall tendency of bat ectoparasites to become specialists, here reflected in the high percentage of monoxeny.
Appears in Collections:Department of Zoology

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