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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(More)
If a parasite is not detected during a survey, one of two explanations is possible: the parasite was truly absent or it was present but not detected. We fit occupancy models to account for imperfect detection when combing fleas (Siphonaptera) from black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) during June-August 2012 in the Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico,(More)
Ectoparasites are often difficult to detect in the field. We developed a method that can be used with occupancy models to estimate the prevalence of ectoparasites on hosts, and to investigate factors that influence rates of ectoparasite occupancy while accounting for imperfect detection. We describe the approach using a study of fleas (Siphonaptera) on(More)
Genetic variability and structure of nine black-tailed prairie dog (BTPD, Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies were estimated with 15 unlinked microsatellite markers. A plague epizootic occurred between the first and second years of sampling and our study colonies were nearly extirpated with the exception of three colonies in which prairie dog burrows were(More)
Scientists and health-care professionals sometimes use a swabbing technique to collect fleas from rodent burrows, and later test the fleas for Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague. Detection of Y. pestis is enhanced when large pools of fleas are available. The following study investigated factors that might affect the rate at which fleas are(More)
Invasive transformer species change the character, condition, form, or nature of ecosystems and deserve considerable attention from conservation scientists. We applied the transformer species concept to the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis in western North America, where the pathogen was introduced around 1900. Y. pestis transforms grassland ecosystems by(More)
Fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera) are hematophagous ectoparasites that can reduce the fitness of vertebrate hosts. Laboratory populations of fleas decline under dry conditions, implying that populations of fleas will also decline when precipitation is scarce under natural conditions. If precipitation and hence vegetative production are reduced, however, then(More)
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