Flea infestation and energy requirements of rodent hosts: Are there general rules? Academic Article uri icon


  • 1. Two immunological tactics, a constitutive response that is always present, and an induced response that is only employed after an invader has been recognized, have evolved in animals as a defence against parasites. 2. The energy requirements, body mass change and blood parameters of flea-parasitized and nonparasitized gerbils (Gerbillus andersoni) were measured and compared with published data for a close relative (Gerbillus dasyurus). G andersoni possesses a constitutive immune response that could require additional maintenance costs, whereas G dasyurus develops an immune response only after being attacked by fleas. We therefore predicted that G andersoni has higher energy requirements than G dasyurus when both species are parasite-free. However, we also predicted that the immunological 'readiness' of G andersoni makes it less susceptible to flea infestation than G dasyurus. 3. Energy requirements for maintenance were estimated by offering different levels of metabolizable energy to parasitized and

publication date

  • January 1, 2006