Zoological Studies

Vol. 53, 2014

The effects of mite parasitism on the reproduction and survival of the Taiwan field mice (Apodemus semotus)

Jhan-Wei Lin1, Hsuan-Yi Lo1, Hsi-Chieh Wang2 and Pei-Jen Lee Shaner1*


Background: The effects of parasitism on host survival and reproduction can be highly complex depending on the type of parasites, host sex and life-history characteristics, and ecological conditions. In this study, we tested sex-biased parasitism from Trombiculid mites (Acarina: Trombiculidae) and their sex-specific effects on host reproduction and survival, in a natural population of the Taiwan field mouse (Apodemus semotus). We performed surveys of A. semotus and their Trombiculid mites between April 2010 and August 2011 and again between June
and September 2012 in a subtropical evergreen forest in Taiwan.

Contrary to the commonly reported male-biased parasitism in mammals, we did not find sex-biased parasitism in A. semotus. We found that mite abundance was negatively associated with A. semotus reproduction and survival in both males and females. The mite abundance and rodent reproduction fluctuated seasonally, and the peak reproductive season coincided with the time period of relatively low mite abundance.
Conclusions: Trombiculid mites could potentially regulate A. semotus populations through reducing their reproduction and survival. The overlapping periods of peak reproduction and low parasitism implied that A. semotus may adjust their reproductive phenology to avoid periods of high parasitism or be constrained by parasites to reproduce only during periods of low parasitism. Although our results are correlational, host breeding season has been shown to increase in response to experimental reduction of parasitism. We suggest that parasites may shape host reproduction phenology through which they may influence host population dynamics.

Key words: Ectoparasite; Host parasite; Life history; Rodent; Sex-biased parasitism; Trombiculidae.

*Correspondence: E-mail: