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    Lehnert, Kristina Schwanke, Eva Hahn, Kerstin Wohlsein, Peter and Siebert, Ursula 2016. Heartworm (Acanthocheilonema spirocauda) and seal louse (Echinophthirius horridus) infections in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) from the North and Baltic Seas. Journal of Sea Research, Vol. 113, p. 65.

    Leonardi, María Soledad 2014. Faster the better: a reliable technique to sample anopluran lice in large hosts. Parasitology Research, Vol. 113, Issue. 6, p. 2015.

    Leonardi, Maria Soledad and Lazzari, Claudio R. 2014. Uncovering deep mysteries: The underwater life of an amphibious louse. Journal of Insect Physiology, Vol. 71, p. 164.

    Leonardi, M. S. Crespo, E. A. Raga, J. A. and Aznar, F. J. 2013. Lousy mums: patterns of vertical transmission of an amphibious louse. Parasitology Research, Vol. 112, Issue. 9, p. 3315.


Life begins when the sea lion is ashore: microhabitat use by a louse living on a diving mammal host

  • M.S. Leonardi (a1), E.A. Crespo (a1), D.G. Vales (a1), M. Feijoo (a2), J.A. Raga (a3) and F.J. Aznar (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 16 January 2012

Among Anoplura, the family Echinophthiriidae includes species that infest pinnipeds and otters. Previous evidence obtained from pinnipeds infested by echinophthiriids, specifically from seals, indicates that flippers are the preferred infestation sites, while lice from fur seals select areas in the pelage. We studied habitat selection of Antarctophthirus microchir on South American sea lion pups (Otaria flavescens Shaw, 1800) from Patagonia, Argentina, during the austral summer of 2009. We found a clear pattern of habitat selection: eggs are laid on the dorsal surface; nymphs 1 hatch there and then migrate to the belly, where they develop into adults and copulate; and then ovigerous females return to the dorsal surface. On the one hand, nymphs 1 are characterised by their low locomotory ability; therefore, the fact that they migrate as soon as they hatch suggests a clear pressure leading to microhabitat restriction. On the other hand, the described pattern of microhabitat selection seems to respond to the physiological requirements of each stage, which vary according to the physiological process considered, e.g. oviposition, morphogenesis, hatching and development. Accordingly, it appears that A. microchir would prefer the host's ventral area for development and copulation and the dorsal area for oviposition. However, the causes of this pattern are not clear, and many factors could be involved. Considering that sea lion pups periodically soak at high tides, and that prolonged immersion and very high humidity are known to be lethal for lice eggs, selecting the dorsal area would be advantageous for oviposition because it dries much faster. Furthermore, because humidity should be retained for longer periods on the ventral surface of the pup, wetter conditions on the sea lion would prevent desiccation of the nymphs in the very arid environment where O. flavescens breeds.

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Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
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