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Ectoparasite loads of the Central American Whiptail Lizard Ameiva festiva (Squamata: Teiidae)

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We studied relative abundance, sex ratio, sexual maturity, body size and mite loads of the lizard Ameiva festiva in grassland, primary and secondary forest in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica. A total of 51 individuals were captured using drift fences with pitfall and funnel traps. With equal sampling efforts across sites, 19 individuals were caught along a gap within secondary forest, 29 individuals were caught at a grassland site and three specimens were caught in primary forest. The proportion of immature individuals differed significantly among sampling sites in the three habitats, whereas sex ratio did not. Snout-vent length did not differ between sexes or habitats. The chigger mite Eutrombicula alfreddugesi was the only ecto-parasite found to infest A. festiva. Proportionally more lizards were infested in the grassland site (86%) than in the secondary forest site (10%), a finding which is unlikely to result from differential mite densities in the two habitats. The number of mites on each individual increased with body size in grassland, but not in secondary forest where almost no individuals were infested. We found no effects of sex or stage on mite loads. The average infestation intensity was 21 mites (range 1 – 115) per individual.
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Keywords: CHIGGER MITES; COSTA RICA; EUTROMBICULA; LIZARDS; MITE LOADS; SEX RATIOS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2012

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