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What Influences the Prevalence and Intensity of Haemoparasites and Ectoparasites in an Insular Lizard?

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Damas-Moreira, Isabel 
Marshall, Kate LA 
Perera, Ana 


Island biogeography theories predict that characteristics such as island size, age, and isolation interplay in host-parasite dynamics. In this study, we analyzed haemogregarines of the Aegean wall lizard, Podarcis erhardii, to investigate how island characteristics relate to parasite prevalence and intensity. A previous assessment of 19 Greek island populations suggested that isolation time and host population density were key predictors of haemogregarines. Here, by combining microscopy and genetic techniques, we extend this previous study to four additional islands: Syros, Folegandros, Santorini and Nea Kameni. We also recorded the prevalence of ticks and mites, definitive hosts for these parasites. The genetically identified haemogregarines are part of a clade with parasites from other lizard species, including some considered as Karyolysus, but others assigned to Hepatozoon. The prevalence of these parasites differed significantly between islands, while their intensity did not. The presence of ticks was associated with endoparasite prevalence, and males were more frequently infected by haemogregarines than females. Combining our data with that of the previous study, we found no significant impact of the island age and area on parasite prevalence. We also confirmed the presence of the unrelated parasite genus Schellackia through microscopy and DNA sequencing, which is the first record of this genus in this host species. Our results further highlight the complexity of host-parasite systems.


Peer reviewed: True


18S rRNA, Hepatozoon, Karyolysus, Podarcis erhardii, Schellackia, host-parasite interactions, mites, ticks

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Animals (Basel)

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European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (857251)