Digesting blood of an auxiliary host in fleas: effect of phylogenetic distance from a principal host Academic Article uri icon


  • Fleas are haematophagous ectoparasites that exhibit varying degrees of host specificity. Flea abundance is highest on principal hosts and lower on auxiliary hosts but may vary greatly among auxiliary hosts. We investigated the feeding and energy expenditure for digestion in two flea species Parapulex chephrenis and Xenopsylla ramesis on a principal host (Acomys cahirinus and Meriones crassus, respectively) and eight auxiliary host species. We predicted that fleas would perform better–that is (i) a higher proportion of fleas would take a blood meal,(ii) fleas would take larger blood meals and (iii) fleas would spend less energy on digestion–if they fed on (i) a principal host compared with an auxiliary host and (ii) an auxiliary host phylogenetically close to a principal host compared with an auxiliary host phylogenetically distant from a principal host. Energy costs of digestion …

publication date

  • April 15, 2012