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Do small mammals prey upon an invasive ectoparasite of cervids?

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Predation is often considered an important factor for population regulation and in some cases for the invasion success of prey. Small mammalian predation may be a major force in the population regulation of many ground-dwelling invertebrate species. The deer ked (Lipoptena cervi (L., 1758)) is an ectoparasitic fly of cervids. The species has a large distribution area and it has relatively rapidly spread in northern Europe during the previous four decades. The factors possibly regulating the distribution and invasion of this fly are poorly known. During the off-host stage of several months, pupae of deer ked are likely exposed to many ground-dwelling predators. To study whether small mammals would feed on deer keds, we conducted experiments by serving pupae of deer ked to wild-captured common shrews (Sorex araneus L., 1758), bank voles (Myodes glareolus (Schreber, 1780)), field voles (Microtus agrestis (L., 1761)), and semi-wild bank voles, and assessed pupal survival. As a control, we provided alternative food including common nutrients used by small mammals in their natural habitats. The results show that variable amounts of pupae of deer ked are consumed by all small-mammal species studied. Surprisingly, insectivorous and most of the time food-constrained shrews consumed less pupae than granivorous–herbivorous voles.

Keywords: Cervidae; Hippoboscidae; Lipoptena cervi; cervidés; deer ked; ectoparasite; foraging; hippoboscidés; invasion; mouche du cerf; petit mammifère; predator; prédateur; quête de nourriture; small mammal

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Eastern Finland, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland. 2: Finnish Wildlife Agency, Fantsintie 13-14, FI-00890 Helsinki, Finland. 3: University of Oulu, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland. 4: University of Helsinki, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Nurminiementie 2, FI-93600 Kuusamo, Finland. 5: University of Jyväskylä, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, Konnevesi Research Station, P.O. Box 35, FI-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.

Publication date: August 11, 2012

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