Ecological differences and coexistence in a guild of microparasites: Bartonella in wild rodents

Sandra Telfer, Helen E Clough, Richard J Birtles, Malcolm Bennett, David Carslake, Sarah Helyar, Michael Begon

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43 Citations (Scopus)
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The study of ecological differences among coexisting microparasites has been largely neglected, but it addresses important and unusual issues because there is no clear distinction in such cases between conventional (resource) and apparent competition. Here patterns in the population dynamics are examined for four species of Bartonella (bacterial parasites) coexisting in two wild rodent hosts, bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). Using generalized linear modeling and mixed effects models, we examine, for these four species, seasonal patterns and dependencies on host density (both direct and delayed) and, having accounted for these, any differences in prevalence between the two hosts. Whereas previous studies had failed to uncover species differences, here all four were different. Two, B. doshiae and B. taylorii, were more prevalent in wood mice, and one, B. birtlesii, was more prevalent in bank voles. B. birtlesii, B. grahamii, and B. taylorii peaked in prevalence in the fall, whereas B. doshiae peaked in spring. For B. birtlesii in bank voles, density dependence was direct, but for B. taylorii in wood mice density dependence was delayed. B. birtlesii prevalence in wood mice was related to bank vole density. The implications of these differences for species coexistence are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1841-1849
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • Animals
  • Arvicolinae
  • Bartonella
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Murinae
  • Population Density


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