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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041487. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Effects of anthropogenic disturbance and climate on patterns of bat fly parasitism.

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  • 1Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. spilosof@post.bgu.ac.il

Abstract

Environmental conditions, including anthropogenic disturbance, can significantly alter host and parasite communities. Yet, our current knowledge is based mainly on endoparasites, while ectoparasites remain little studied. We studied the indirect effects of anthropogenic disturbance (human population density) and climate (temperature, precipitation and elevation) on abundance of highly host-specific bat flies in four Neotropical bat species across 43 localities in Venezuela. We formulated a set of 11 a priori hypotheses that included a combination of the two effectors and host species. Statistically, each of these hypotheses was represented by a zero-inflated negative binomial mixture model, allowing us to control for excess zeros in the data. The best model was selected using Akaike's information criteria. Fly abundance was affected by anthropogenic disturbance in Artibeus planirostris, Carollia perspicillata and Pteronotus parnellii, but not Desmodus rotundus. Climate affected fly abundance in all bat species, suggesting mediation of these effects via the host or by direct effects on flies. We conclude that human disturbance may play a role in shaping bat-bat fly interactions. Different processes could determine fly abundance in the different bat species.

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