Fleas are one of the most interesting and fascinating taxa of ectoparasites. All species in this relatively small order are obligatory haematophagous (blood-feeding) parasites of higher vertebrates. This book examines how functional, ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes of host-parasite relationships are realized in this particular system. As such it provides an in-depth case study of a host-parasite system, demonstrating how fleas can be used as a model taxon for testing ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. The book moves from basic descriptive aspects, to functional issues and finally to evolutionary explanations. It extracts several general principles that apply equally well to other host-parasite systems, so it appeals not only to flea biologists but also to 'mainstream' parasitologists and ecologists.
Professor Boris Krasnov graduated from Moscow State University in Russia. He is now working at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and studies host-parasite relationships using mammal-ectoparasite associations as model systems.
Preface; Part I. Brief Descriptive Ecology - What Do Fleas Do?: 1. Composition of the order; 2. Hosts of Siphonaptera; 3. Geographic distribution of fleas; 4. Origin and evolution of fleas; 5. Life cycles; 6. Fleas and Humanity; Part II. Functional Ecology - How Do Fleas Do What They Do?: 7. Ecology of sexual dimorphism, gender differences, and sex ratio; 8. Ecology of flea locomotion; 9. Ecology of host selection; 10. Ecology of haematophagy; 11. Ecology of reproduction and pre-imaginal development; 12. Ecology of flea virulence; 13. Ecology of host defence; Part III. Evolutionary Ecology: Why Do Fleas Do What They Do?: 14. Ecology and evolution of host specificity; 15. Ecology of flea populations; 16. Ecology of flea communities; 17. Patterns of flea diversity; 18. Fleas, hosts, habitats; 19. What further efforts are needed?; References; Index.