From endosymbionts to host communities: factors determining the reproductive success of arthropod vectors

Elucidating the factors determining reproductive success has challenged scientists since Darwin, but the exact pathways that shape the evolution of life history traits by connecting extrinsic (e.g., landscape structure) and intrinsic (e.g., female's age and endosymbionts) factors and reproductive success have rarely been studied. Here we collected female fleas from wild rodents in plots differing in their densities and proportions of the most dominant rodent species. We then combined path analysis and model selection approaches to explore the network of effects, ranging from micro to macroscales, determining the reproductive success of these fleas. Our results suggest that female reproductive success is directly and positively associated with their infection by Mycoplasma bacteria and their own body mass, and with the rodent species size and total density. In addition, we found evidence for indirect effects of rodent sex and rodent community diversity on female reproductive success. These results highlight the importance of exploring interrelated factors across organization scales while studying the reproductive success of wild organisms, and they have implications for the control of vector-borne diseases.

Date Submitted:
Nov 21 2018
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 Record created 2018-11-21, last modified 2019-04-03

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