The effect of water contamination and host-related factors on ectoparasite load in an insectivorous bat Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We examined the effects of sex, age, and reproductive state of the insectivorous bat Pipistrellus kuhlii on the abundance and prevalence of arthropod ectoparasites (Macronyssidae and Cimicidae) in habitats with either sewage-polluted or natural bodies of water, in the Negev Desert, Israel. We chose water pollution as an environmental factor because of the importance of water availability in desert environments, particularly for P. kuhlii, which needs to drink on a daily basis. We predicted that parasite infestation rates would be affected by both environment and demographic cohort of the host. We found that female bats in the polluted site harbored significantly more mites than female bats in the natural site and that juveniles in the polluted site harbored significantly more cimicid individuals than juveniles in the natural site. We further found that age and sex (host-related factors) affected ectoparasite prevalence and intensity (i.e., the abundance of parasites) in the polluted site. Our results may suggest that the interaction between host-related and environment-related factors affected parasite infestations, with females and young bats being more susceptible to ectoparasites when foraging over polluted water. This effect may be particularly important for bats that must drink or forage above water for other wildlife that depend on drinking water for survival.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017