Investigations focusing on host-ectoparasite interactions in animals have revealed asymptomatic to severe health and fitness consequences suggesting that species mobilize different interspecific response mechanisms. Fewer studies, however, have examined intraspecific responses to ectoparasitic burdens. In this study, we analyzed host health and fitness responses to increasing ectoparasite burdens along with the presence/absence of hemoparasites of free-ranging insular rock iguanas (Cyclura cychlura) in The Bahamas. Using hematology, plasma biochemistry, as well as body condition and growth rate comparisons, we failed to find significant associations of tick burdens with annual growth rate, corticosterone, packed cell volume, total white blood cell, and heterophil, monocyte, eosinophil or hemoglobin measures. We did, however, find mixed and significant associations of tick burdens with lymphocyte and basophil counts, heterophil-to-lymphocyte ratios, and body condition indices. These associations varied by sex, size, and hemoparasite infection status suggesting that different life stages of iguanas may invest differently in immune responses, and impacts may be modulated based on size and sex of hosts, and coinfection status.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Lattin, C. (2019). Host sex, size, and hemoparasite infection influence the effects of ectoparasitic burdens on free-ranging iguanas. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 9 (4), 1946-1956. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4887