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Longevity and developmental stability in the dung fly Sepsis cynipsea, as affected by the ectoparasitic mite, Pediculoides mesembrinae

Author(s): Oliver Y. Martin | David J. Hosken

Journal: Journal of Insect Science
ISSN 1536-2442

Volume: 9;
Issue: 69;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: fluctuating asymmetry | parasite | Diptera | Sepsidae | Phthiraptera | Menoponidae

Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is a widely employed measure of developmental stability. It has been found to increase with many stressors including parasite infection. Associations between parasites and FA may exist for several reasons in addition to parasites being the direct cause of increased FA. Developmentally stable individuals may have superior immune systems, and be less susceptible to parasite infection, and/or may be less exposed to parasites than developmentally unstable ones. Mites negatively impact host fitness in a number of insects, and if FA is a reflection of general genetic quality, as has been proposed, associations between mite number and FA are predicted. Potential relationships were investigated between an ectoparasitic mite, Pediculoides mesembrinae (Canestrini) (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae) and FA in the common dung fly Sepsis cynipsea (L.) (Diptera: Sepsidae). While it was found that mite infested flies died much faster than flies without mites, indicating that mites indeed stress their hosts, counter to expectations, no associations between mites and FA were found in any analyses. Additionally, FA in mite-infected flies generally did not differ from previously published FA data from uninfected S. cynipsea. Nevertheless, parasitized males tended to be somewhat less asymmetrical than non-parasitized males, but based on our data, it does not appear that mite infestation is generally associated with developmental stability in S. cynipsea.
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