Personality predicts ectoparasite abundance in an asocial sciurid (PDF)
S.J. Bohn*, Q.M.R. Webber*, K.R.N. Florko, K.R. Paslawski, A.M. Peterson, J.E. Piche, A.K. Menzies, and C.K.R. Willis
Abstract: Parasitism is a consequence of complex interactions between host, parasite, and their shared environment, and host behavior can influence parasite risk. Animal personality (i.e. consistent behavioral differences that are repeatable across time and context) can influence parasitism with more explorative individuals typically hosting greater parasite loads. Host "sociality" is known to impact parasite risk with more social individuals typically at higher risk of acquiring or transmitting parasites, but other behaviors could also be important. We quantified personality in least chipmunks (Tamias minimus) including repeatability of behavioral traits, and determined whether these personality traits affected ectoparasite prevalence and abundance. We measured personality using standardized hole-board tests and quantified ectoparasitism of 39 least chipmunks over 2 years at a site in southeastern Manitoba, Canada. We found that activity and exploration were repeatable within the context of the hole-board test for least chipmunks, which suggests that these traits reflect personality. More exploratory individuals hosted a greater abundance of ectoparasites compared to less exploratory individuals. Our results are consistent with past studies implicating personality as a factor in host-parasite dynamics and suggest that exploration may be an important behavioral correlate of parasite acquisition.
Evidence of ‘sickness behaviour’ in bats with white-nose syndrome (PDF)
S.J. Bohn, J.M. Turner, L. Warnecke, C. Mayo, L.P. McGuire, V. Misra, T.K. Bollinger, and C.K.R. Willis
Abstract: Many animals change behaviour in response to pathogenic infections. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal skin disease causing rapid declines of North American bats. Infection with Pseudogymnoascus destructans causes hibernating bats to arouse from torpor too often, potentially causing starvation. Mechanisms underlying increased arousals are not understood but fungal invasion of the wings could trigger thirst to relieve fluid loss or grooming to relieve skin irritation. Alternatively, bats might exhibit ‘sickness behaviour’, a suite of responses to infection that save energy. We quantified behaviours of healthy and experimentally inoculated little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) that could reflect active (i.e., drinking, grooming) or inactive (i.e., sickness behaviour) responses to infection. Infected bats groomed less and were less likely to visit their water dish compared to controls. These results are consistent with research suggesting that P. destructans causes sickness behaviour which could help bats compensate for energetic costs associated with infection.
Natural History Notes
A 23-Year-Old Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) Record from Southwest Saskatchewan, Canada
K.R.N. Florko, S.J. Bohn, M.C. Kalcounis-Rueppell, and R.M. Brigham
(Northwest Naturalist: In Press - Expected Publication Jan 2017)
Myotis ciliolabrum Found East of its Known Range
S.J. Bohn, N. Lerminiaux, and A. Stulberg.
Blue Jay 2015