Postdoctoral fellow, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Understanding relationships among different facets of ectoparasite host specificity
Unlike most animals, ectoparasites such as fleas live in a dual environment. Adult fleas live on a mouse that provides them with a habitat in which to live, feed and reproduce, whereas immature stages normally develop in the shelter of the mouse. However, an estimated 2500 species of fleas exist worldwide and none of them are the same. Some occur on several different mice species, whereas others only occur on a single species. Moreover, some fleas are found across continents while others occur on a single continent. In order to measure these differences among fleas, parasitologists have developed several different indices that measures different aspects of the association of a flea with mice . I investigate these different measures to understand if they capture the same things. If one measure capture all the necessary information there is not need to calculate several different indices. This research has broad applicability as fleas that infest several mice are normally the ones that transmit pathogens to humans causing them to become sick.