Ecological indices and factors influencing communities of ectoparasitic laelapid mites (Acari, Mesostigmata, Laelapidae) of small mammals in Lithuania
Abstract: Family Laelapidae is an ecologically diverse group that includes free-living species and parasites of vertebrates and invertebrates. At least seven genera in this family are associated with small mammals. In this study, ectoparasitic laelapid mites of rodents and shrews were investigated in Lithuania. In total, 2,274 small mammal specimens of 12 species were trapped and 6,089 laelapid mites were collected. The updated list of ectoparasitic mites in Lithuania included 21 mite species. Seven mite species were identified as highly specific for a host species or genus, one species was moderately specific, and four mite species were assigned to generalist parasites. All host species had one or two superdominant mite species. The prevalence and mean intensity varied significantly depending on host species and habitat. We analyzed the influence of the host (species, sex, age) and environmental factors (landscape morphology type, habitat, anthropogenic effect) on the abundance of the mite community and most numerous mite species, as well as the impact of the host community (Shannon's diversity index, species richness, host abundance) on mean abundance of the mite community. Only particular host species (Apodemus flavicollis, Microtus agrestis, and Microtus arvalis) and habitats (pastures, mixed forests) influenced the abundance of mites.
Keywords: diversity / mite / Microtus / Laelapidae / Ecological / abundance / seven / mammals / parasites / habitat
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