Species Abundance Distribution of Ectoparasites on Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) from a Localized Area in Southwest China
AbstractBackground: The species of ectoparasites that live on a specific host in a geographical region form an ectoparasite community. Species abundance distributions describe the number of individuals observed for each different species that is encountered within a community. Based on properties of the species abundance distribution, the expected total number of species present in the community can be estimated.Methods: Preston’s lognormal distribution model was used to fit the expected species abundance distribution curve. Using the expected species abundance distribution curve, we estimated the total number of expected parasite species present and the amount of species that were likely missed by our sampling in the field.Results: In total, 8040 ectoparasites (fleas, sucking lice, gamasid mites and chigger mites) were collected from 431 Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) from a localized area in southwest China. These ectoparasites were identified to be 47 species from 26 genera in 10 families. The majority of ectoparasite species were chigger mites (family Trombiculidae) while the majority of individuals were sucking lice in the family Polyplacidae. The expected species abundance distribution curve demonstrated the classic pattern that the majority of ectoparasite species were rare and that there were a few common species. The total expected number of ectoparasite species on R. norvegicus was estimated to be 85 species, and 38 species were likely missed by our sampling in the field.Conclusions: Norway rats harbor a large suite of ectoparasites. Future field investigations should sample large numbers of host individuals to assess ectoparasite populations.
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