Bird predation alters infestation of desert lizards by parasitic mites

Dror Hawlena*, Zvika Abramsky, Amos Bouskila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Theory predicts that predators can reduce parasite abundance on prey by reducing prey density and through disproportionate predation on heavily infested individuals. We experimentally tested this prediction by examining the effects of bird predation on parasitic mite infestation of the prey lizard Acanthodactylus beershebensis. We manipulated predation by adding perches to arid scrubland, allowing avian predators to hunt for lizards in a habitat the birds would not normally use. Host density influenced parasite abundance in hatchlings, but not in older aged individuals and parasite abundance did not affect lizard host survival. Contrary to expectation mite abundance on adult lizards increased under low predation intensities. We explain these results by suggesting a novel hypothesis based on the assumption that the two components of predation, i.e. actual removal of prey and risk, exert contradictory effects on macroparasite abundance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)730-736
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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