Fleas are one of the most interesting and fascinating taxa of ectoparasites. All species in this relatively small order are obligatory haematophagous (blood-feeding) parasites of higher vertebrates. This 2008 book examines how functional, ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes of host-parasite relationships are realized in this particular system. As such it provides an in-depth case study of a host-parasite system, demonstrating how fleas can be used as a model taxon for testing ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. Functional and Evolutionary Ecology of Fleas moves from basic descriptive aspects, to functional issues and finally to evolutionary explanations. It extracts several general principles that apply equally well to other host-parasite systems, so it appeals not only to flea biologists but also to 'mainstream' parasitologists and ecologists.
Part I. Brief Descriptive Ecology - What Do Fleas Do?
1. Composition of the order
2. Hosts of Siphonaptera
3. Geographic distribution of fleas
4. Origin and evolution of fleas
5. Life cycles
6. Fleas and Humanity
Part II. Functional Ecology - How Do Fleas Do What They Do?
7. Ecology of sexual dimorphism, gender differences, and sex ratio
8. Ecology of flea locomotion
9. Ecology of host selection
10. Ecology of haematophagy
11. Ecology of reproduction and pre-imaginal development
12. Ecology of flea virulence
13. Ecology of host defence
Part III. Evolutionary Ecology: Why Do Fleas Do What They Do?
14. Ecology and evolution of host specificity
15. Ecology of flea populations
16. Ecology of flea communities
17. Patterns of flea diversity
18. Fleas, hosts, habitats
19. What further efforts are needed?
Boris Krasnov is a senior research scientist in the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He has worked in the field of Ecology for almost thirty years. He was awarded the Rector's Award for Outstanding Scientists by Ben-Gurion University in 2006.
"The clear structure and exceptionally fine style of writing in this volume should attract a much wider range of readers than might initially be expected from its title. The book is very definitely up to scratch."
- Bulletin of the British Ecological Society
"Some readers may gain most from the early, descriptive chapters of this Olympian review, on aspects such as the obligate blood feeding on higher vertebrates that defines the flea taxon. Others will find both illumination and stimulation in the later essays on various aspects of fleas' functional and evolutionary ecology. The subtitles of these two sections – 'How do fleas do what they do?' and 'Why do fleas do what they do?' – admirably illustrate the unstuffy clarity of the writing, commending the book to students and advanced researchers alike."
" [...] provides an in-depth case study of a host-parasite system, demonstrating how fleas can be used as a model taxon for testing ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. [...] It extracts several general principals that apply equally well to other host-parasite systems, so will appeal not only to flea biologists but also to mainstream parasitologists and ecologists."
"In addition to its handsome cover design and unique subject matter, this book is succinctly written, easy to read and navigate, and has three major strengths: 1) it is logically organized into three general aspects of the functional and evolutionary ecology of fleas, 2) it has an unsurpassed comprehensive bibliography relevant to this subject, and 3) it has a comprehensive cross-index that enhances its function to the reader [...] This book will predictably be a classic summation of our knowledge of the functional and evolutionary ecology of fleas. It is truly, as the title suggests, a 'model for ecological parasitology', and is a welcome addition to the book shelves of all professionals and students in the fields of ecology, parasitology, and medical entomology."
- Entomological Society of America (entsoc.org)