Ecology of Proctophyllodes megaphyllus and Analges sp. of the Prunella modularis in the West Carpathian region
This study describes the ecology of the dominant feather mite species found on the dunnock (Prunella modularis). By comparing mean abundance, prevalence, and intensity during different seasons throughout the annual life cycle of the dunnock, the life cycle of Proctophyllodes megaphyllus and Analges sp. was examined. Thanks to the collection of feather mites from dead host specimens, it was possible to compare differing abundance on certain parts of the body and thus better understand the population dynamics of both species. Each species have been shown to have different life strategies. In Analges sp., population dynamics are adapted to vertical transmission, while Proctophyllodes megaphyllus has adapted its to horizontal transmission despite the unusual social behavior of the dunnock. According to our results, feather mites are likely to adapt their lives to their environment, respectively of their host. This may also provide some insights in response to the question of whether feather mites should be called parasitic or ectosymbionic organisms.
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