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Batracobdella leeches, environmental features and Hydromantes salamanders

  • Leeches can parasitize many vertebrate taxa. In amphibians, leech parasitism often has potential detrimental effects including population decline. Most of studies on the host-parasite interactions involving leeches and amphibians focus on freshwater environments, while they are very scarce for terrestrial amphibians. In this work, we studied the relationship between the leech Batracobdella algira and the European terrestrial salamanders of the genus Hydromantes, identifying environmental features related to the presence of the leeches and their possible effects on the hosts. We performed observation throughout Sardinia (Italy), covering the distribution area of all Hydromantes species endemic to this island. From September 2015 to May 2017, we conducted >150 surveys in 26 underground environments, collecting data on 2629 salamanders and 131 leeches. Water hardness was the only environmental feature correlated with the presence of B. algira, linking this leech to active karstic systems. Leeches were more frequently parasitizing salamanders with large body size. Body Condition Index was not significantly different between parasitized and non-parasitized salamanders. Our study shows the importance of abiotic environmental features for host-parasite interactions, and poses new questions on complex interspecific interactions between this ectoparasite and amphibians.

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Author:Enrico LunghiORCiD, Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Manuela Mulargia, Roberto Cogoni, Michael Veith, Claudia Corti, Raoul Manenti
Parent Title (English):International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2018/06/04
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2018/06/04
Tag:BCI; Cave; Interaction; Leech; Parasitism; Speleomantes
GND Keyword:Blutegel; Höhlensalamander; Karst; Parasitismus; Sardinien
Source:International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Institutes:Fachbereich 6 / Raum- und Umweltwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY-NC-ND: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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