Seasonal and among-site variation in the occurrence and abundance of fleas on California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

Jason A. Hubbart, David S. Jachowski, David A. Eads
2011 Journal of Vector Ecology  
An improved understanding of the ecology of fleas on California ground squirrels, Otospermophilus beecheyi, is warranted given the role of fleas in the transmission, and perhaps persistence, of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis. We sampled O. beecheyi on a seasonal basis from three study sites, each representing a different land use type (preserve, pasture, and agriculture) in the San Joaquin Valley, CA. Overall, the abundance of fleas on squirrels was greatest in spring at the
more » ... ve site, in summer at the agriculture and pasture sites, and in winter at the pasture site. Hoplopsyllus anomalus, the species most frequently found on squirrels, was most abundant in spring at the preserve site and in summer at the agriculture and pasture sites. Oropsylla montana was most abundant in winter at the pasture site and on adult squirrels. Echidnophaga gallinacea was most abundant in fall on juvenile squirrels at the preserve site. All three flea species we encountered are known to be potential vectors of Y. pestis. Future efforts to predict flea species occurrence and abundance (and plague risk) at sites of concern should consider seasonal microclimatic conditions and the potential influence of human land use practices.
doi:10.1111/j.1948-7134.2011.00148.x pmid:21635649 fatcat:gn76o6lqtrgzxdf3agihdujrvi