Folia Parasitologica 62:021 (2015) | 10.14411/fp.2015.021
Ectoparasites are an important factor in bat health due to emergent diseases and their associated threats to global public health. The diverse foraging habits of bats expose them to different surfaces which may influence ectoparasite infestations. In spite of these, most studies often overlook dietary specialisations when observing ectoparasite loads. The present paper quantitatively investigates whether foraging strategies as well as other host characteristics (sex, age, trunk and patagial area) influence ectoparasite (nycteribiids and mites) loads of bats. Ectoparasite counts and morphometric data were taken from mist net captures of bats. We then developed and compared models for modeling bat ectoparasite abundance under various distributions using generalised linear models. The negative binomial distribution consistently proved to be adequate for modeling mite, nycteribiid and total ectoparasite abundance based on information-theoretic approaches. Generally, females and frugivores had higher ectoparasite loads conditional on bat sex and diet, respectively. Contrary to nycteribiid abundance, mite abundance was positively related to patagial area. Thus, our findings suggest that dietary guild, sex and patagia of hosts (as well as age-nycteribiid abundance) are significant determinants of ectoparasite abundance.
Received: September 17, 2014; Accepted: January 6, 2015; Published online: March 31, 2015