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Stress and parasitism of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in dry and floodplain environments

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Abstract:

We hypothesized that flooding represents an environmental stressor that might affect the corticosterone levels, parasite prevalence, and life history of small mammals living in floodplain environments. We compared populations of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque, 1818)) on floodplains and dry areas. We found more males on floodplains (p = 0.008) and more females on dry areas (p = 0.005). There were no differences in mass (p> 0.05) or intestinal parasite prevalence (p = 0.665) between dry and floodplain habitats, but bot fly larvae were significantly more prevalent in males living on floodplains (p = 0.043). Floodplain animals had significantly higher levels of corticosterone than dry-area animals in fall, and lower levels in summer (F[1,20]= 4.483, p = 0.047). In addition, we found that animals with intestinal parasites had higher levels of corticosterone than those that were without parasites (p = 0.014) or that harbored bot fly larvae (p = 0.001). Floodplains seem to be harsher environments than dry areas, but this may be a result of differences in habitat rather than a direct result of flooding.

Nous émettons l’hypothèse selon laquelle les inondations représentent des facteurs environnementaux de stress qui peuvent affecter les concentrations de corticostérone, la prévalence des parasites et le cycle biologique chez de petits mammifères qui habitent dans les milieux de plaines de débordement. Nous comparons les populations de souris à pieds blancs (Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque, 1818)) dans des plaines de débordement et des zones sèches. Nous trouvons plus de mâles dans les plaines de débordement (p = 0,008) et plus de femelles dans les régions sèches (p = 0,005). Il n’y a pas de différence de masse (p > 0,05), ni de prévalence de parasites intestinaux (p = 0,665) entre les habitats de plaine de débordement et de région sèche; cependant, les larves d’œstres ont une prévalence significativement plus grande chez les mâles habitant les plaines de débordement (p = 0,043). Les animaux de la plaine de débordement ont des concentrations significativement plus élevées de corticostérone que les animaux des régions sèches en automne et des concentrations plus faibles en été (F[1,20]= 4,483, p = 0,047). De plus, les animaux portant des parasites intestinaux ont des concentrations plus élevées de corticostérone que ceux qui sont sans parasites (p = 0,014) ou qui portent des larves d’œstres (p = 0,001). Les plaines de débordement semblent donc être des habitats plus rudes que les régions sèches, mais cela peut résulter de différences entre les habitats plutôt qu’être un effet direct des inondations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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