The Fleas of Endemic and Introduced Small Mammals in Central Highland Forests of Madagascar: Faunistics, Species Diversity, and Absence of Host Specificity

J Med Entomol. 2015 Sep;52(5):1135-43. doi: 10.1093/jme/tjv113. Epub 2015 Aug 4.


Data are presented on the flea species of the genera Paractenopsyllus (Ceratophyllidae, Leptopsyllinae) and Synopsyllus (Pulicidae, Xenopsyllinae) obtained from small mammals during two 2014 seasonal surveys at a montane humid forest site (Ambohitantely) in the Central Highlands of Madagascar. The mammal groups included the endemic family Tenrecidae (tenrecs) and subfamily Nesomyinae (rodents) and two introduced families Muridae (rodents) and Soricidae (shrews); no fleas were recovered from the latter family. The surveys were conducted at the end of the wet and dry seasons with 288 individual small mammals captured, including 12 endemic and four introduced species. These animals yielded 344 fleas, representing nine species endemic to Madagascar; no introduced species was collected. Some seasonal variation was found in the number of trapped small mammals, but no marked difference was found in species richness. For flea species represented by sufficient samples, no parasite-host specificity was found, and there is evidence for considerable lateral exchange in the local flea fauna between species of tenrecs and the two rodent families (endemic and introduced). The implications of these results are discussed with regards to small mammal species richness and community structure, as well as a possible mechanism for the maintenance of sylvatic cycles of bubonic plague in the montane forests of Madagascar.

Keywords: Ambohitantely; fleas; seasonality; small mammal; species richness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • Flea Infestations / epidemiology
  • Flea Infestations / parasitology
  • Flea Infestations / veterinary*
  • Host Specificity*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Introduced Species
  • Madagascar / epidemiology
  • Mammals*
  • Siphonaptera / classification
  • Siphonaptera / physiology*