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      Parasite spread at the domestic animal - wildlife interface: anthropogenic habitat use, phylogeny and body mass drive risk of cat and dog flea ( Ctenocephalides spp.) infestation in wild mammals


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          Spillover of parasites at the domestic animal - wildlife interface is a pervasive threat to animal health. Cat and dog fleas ( Ctenocephalides felis and C. canis) are among the world’s most invasive and economically important ectoparasites. Although both species are presumed to infest a diversity of host species across the globe, knowledge on their distributions in wildlife is poor. We built a global dataset of wild mammal host associations for cat and dog fleas, and used Bayesian hierarchical models to identify traits that predict wildlife infestation probability. We complemented this by calculating functional-phylogenetic host specificity to assess whether fleas are restricted to hosts with similar evolutionary histories, diet or habitat niches.


          Over 130 wildlife species have been found to harbour cat fleas, representing nearly 20% of all mammal species sampled for fleas. Phylogenetic models indicate cat fleas are capable of infesting a broad diversity of wild mammal species through ecological fitting. Those that use anthropogenic habitats are at highest risk. Dog fleas, by contrast, have been recorded in 31 mammal species that are primarily restricted to certain phylogenetic clades, including canids, felids and murids. Both flea species are commonly reported infesting mammals that are feral (free-roaming cats and dogs) or introduced (red foxes, black rats and brown rats), suggesting the breakdown of barriers between wildlife and invasive reservoir species will increase spillover at the domestic animal - wildlife interface.


          Our empirical evidence shows that cat fleas are incredibly host-generalist, likely exhibiting a host range that is among the broadest of all ectoparasites. Reducing wild species’ contact rates with domestic animals across natural and anthropogenic habitats, together with mitigating impacts of invasive reservoir hosts, will be crucial for reducing invasive flea infestations in wild mammals.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s13071-017-2564-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references71

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          Prior distributions for variance parameters in hierarchical models (comment on article by Browne and Draper)

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            The delayed rise of present-day mammals.

            Did the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event, by eliminating non-avian dinosaurs and most of the existing fauna, trigger the evolutionary radiation of present-day mammals? Here we construct, date and analyse a species-level phylogeny of nearly all extant Mammalia to bring a new perspective to this question. Our analyses of how extant lineages accumulated through time show that net per-lineage diversification rates barely changed across the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Instead, these rates spiked significantly with the origins of the currently recognized placental superorders and orders approximately 93 million years ago, before falling and remaining low until accelerating again throughout the Eocene and Oligocene epochs. Our results show that the phylogenetic 'fuses' leading to the explosion of extant placental orders are not only very much longer than suspected previously, but also challenge the hypothesis that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event had a major, direct influence on the diversification of today's mammals.
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              PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals


                Author and article information

                Parasit Vectors
                Parasit Vectors
                Parasites & Vectors
                BioMed Central (London )
                8 January 2018
                8 January 2018
                : 11
                : 8
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9320 7537, GRID grid.1003.2, School of Veterinary Science, , University of Queensland, ; Gatton, QLD 4343 Australia
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 834X, GRID grid.1013.3, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, , University of Sydney, ; Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0437 5432, GRID grid.1022.1, Environmental Futures Research Institute, , Griffith University, ; Nathan, QLD 4111 Australia
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 18 September 2017
                : 29 November 2017
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2018

                ctenocephalides canis,ctenocephalides felis,domestic animal - wildlife interface,ecological fitting,host specificity,invasive species,reservoir host,spillover


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