PATTERNS OF TROMBICULID MITE (HANNEMANIA DUNNI) PARASITISM AMONG PLETHODONTID SALAMANDERS IN THE WESTERN PIEDMONT OF NORTH CAROLINA

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Abstract

Trombiculid mites are known to parasitize a variety of amphibian species, yet few comparisons of mite parasitism among amphibian species have been made. In this study, we investigated patterns of trombiculid mite parasitism among 3 plethodontid salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus, Eurycea cirrigera, and Plethodon cylindraceus) in the western Piedmont of North Carolina. All 3 salamander species were parasitized by a single species, Hannemania dunni. Desmognathus fuscus harbored mites more frequently (60.4% of individuals) than E. cirrigera (11.1%) or P. cylindraceus (14.6%). Desmognathus fuscus also had higher parasite loads than E. cirrigera or P. cylindraceus (P < 0.001). Mites on D. fuscus were found more frequently on the limbs than other body locations (P < 0.001). We found no correlation between salamander size and mite abundance (P = 0.689), but salamander collection sites influenced the abundance of mites on D. fuscus (P = 0.002). We found no effect of season on mite abundance in D. fuscus (P = 0.952). Salamander habitat preferences and edaphic or climatic differences among study sites may influence patterns of Hannemania sp. parasitism of salamanders.

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