Summer time predation on the obligatory off-host stage of an invasive ectoparasite
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CitationKaunisto S. Raunismaa I. Kortet R. Ylönen H. (2016). Summer time predation on the obligatory off-host stage of an invasive ectoparasite. PARASITOLOGY, 143 (14) , 1960-1973. 10.1017/S0031182016001748.
Predation can regulate populations and strongly affect invasion success of novel prey. The deer ked (Lipoptena cervi; Linnaeus 1758) is an invasive ectoparasite of cervids that spends a long period of its life cycle outside the host. Prior to this study, virtually nothing was known about natural summer time predation on the deer ked. We aimed to evaluate the magnitude of summer time predation on L. cervi pupae in different habitats and to identify potential predators. We conducted a set of field experiments, where we exposed L. cervi pupae to various ground-dwelling vertebrate and invertebrate predators. The loss of pupae was monitored for different predator guilds. Three habitats of the moose, the main host species, were studied: (1) moist heath forest; (2) dry, logged heath forest; and (3) moist meadow. The results indicate notable summer time predation on L. cervi pupae, and the pupal predation varied within and between habitats, being lowest in the meadow habitat. We found a positive correlation between pupal loss and abundance of the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara), harvestmen (Opiliones), ground spiders (Gnaphosidae) and Formicinae-ants. We conclude that summer time predation during the pupal phase can have a notable local importance for the L. cervi abundance.