Host defence versus intraspecific competition in the regulation of infrapopulations of the flea Xenopsylla conformis on its rodent host Meriones crassus Academic Article uri icon


  • Mechanisms that regulate parasite populations may influence the evolution of hosts and parasites, as well as the stability of host-parasite dynamics but are still poorly understood. A manipulation experiment on the grooming ability of rodent hosts (Meriones crassus) and flea (Xenopsylla conformis) densities on these hosts successfully disentangled two possible regulating mechanisms: (i) behavioural defence of the host and (ii) intraspecific competition among parasites, and revealed their importance in suppressing the feeding of fleas. Moreover, the results suggest that flea competition is direct and is not mediated by host grooming, immune response, or parasite-induced damage to the host. These mechanisms, together with interspecific competition and density-dependent parasite-induced host damage, may limit the parasite burden on an individual host and may prevent parasites from overexploiting their host population.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007