Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Diptera: Streblidae are ectoparasites of bat populations found in many locations throughout the world. These ectoparasites are generally known as bat flies. They attach themselves to the wing membranes and bodies of bats to bite and feed on their blood. Using a large sample consisting of over 2,000 bats and 6,000 bat flies, I have conducted a study of the degree of host specificity of these ectoparasites. Host specificity is a measurement of the degree to which a particular parasite is restricted to its host or hosts. Here I find evidence to support more recent findings that bat flies are highly host specific. Not a single bat fly species was found to have more than four species as primary hosts or a specificity index value greater than 3.3012, and most fly species were restricted to one or two closely related host species. This is certainly considered highly host specific by parasitological standards. Research on parasite-host associations promises to increase our knowledge of both parasite and host groups, but also the myriad of ecological, evolutionary, and epidemiological properties that emerge from the intimate parasite-host relationships.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Carl Dick

Disciplines

Biology | Microbiology | Zoology

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