Evol Ecol Res 20: 317-329 (2019)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Neonates of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus euryale,
pay no cost in body mass or length-adjusted body mass
on account of the load of the ectoparasite Eyndhovenia euryalis

Shetav Yousefi and Mozafar Sharifi

Department of Biology, Razi University, Baghabrisham, Kermanshah, Iran

Correspondence: M. Sharifi, Department of Biology, Razi University, Baghabrisham, 6714967346, Kermanshah, Iran. email: sharifimozafar2012@gmail.com


Background: Bats are generally highly gregarious, forming large colonies known to favour the transmission and reproduction of ectoparasites. Exposure to parasites is responsible for the natural selection of very diverse behavioural and immune system adaptations that enable the hosts to survive and reproduce. A classic interaction between host and parasite is usually predicted, i.e. selection for more resistant hosts, which in turn leads to selection for more infective parasites. However, among bats and their ectoparasites, there are few examples of the host and parasite driving each other’s evolution in this way.

Site of experiment: Kerend Cave, Kermanshah Province, western Iran.

Organisms: The Mediterranean horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus euryale and a mite, Eyndhovenia euryalis.

Question: Does the interaction of host and parasite (horseshoe bat and mite) result in a parasitism-induced cost manifested as reduced host body mass or reduced host body-condition index?

Methods: Simultaneous measurement of the percent prevalence, parasite load, and intensity of E. euryalis, and the body mass and body-condition index of neonates of R. euryale during the post-natal period in Kerend Cave.

Results:The parasite load of R. euryale neonates increases rapidly and peaks during the first three weeks of life, before decreasing steadily to its lowest value at the end of the post-natal period. We found no association between changes in parasite load and the body mass of R. euryale. This indicates that the interaction between the bat and the mite is regulated so that the bat hosts, during their postnatal growth, resist parasites without paying a cost of parasitism in terms either of reduced body mass or body-condition index.

Keywords: body-condition index, Eyndhovenia euryalis, nursing colony, parasite load, Rhinolophus euryale.

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