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Wetland type differentially affects ectoparasitic mites and their damselfly hosts

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The effect of artificial habitat in altered landscapes on species interactions and their suite of enemies is largely unknown. Water mites have been associated with reduced fitness of model damselflies. Mite parasitism was variable, but higher for Ischnura verticalis damselflies from natural, than from artificial, wetlands in the same region. There were no differences in timing of sampling, temperature during sampling, or host age or sex composition of samples between wetland types. Landscape structure might constrain mite presence or abundance at wetland sites or wetland type might be a better predictor of mites, based on factors such as prey abundance. Fewer mites on damselflies from numerous artificial wetlands means that the strength of parasite-mediated selection is likely less than would be inferred if only natural wetlands were surveyed. Such effects of human changes in habitats on host species probably occur often.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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