Personality, space use and tick load in an introduced population of Siberian chipmunks Tamias sibiricus

Authors

  • Nelly Boyer,

    1. Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Ecology, Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Comportementale et Animale, Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada
    2. Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, CP 53, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Denis Réale,

    Corresponding author
    1. Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Ecology, Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Comportementale et Animale, Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Julie Marmet,

    1. Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, CP 53, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Benoît Pisanu,

    1. Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, CP 53, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jean-Louis Chapuis

    1. Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, CP 53, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence author. E-mail: reale.denis@uqam.ca

Summary

1. Although behaviours can contribute to the heterogeneity in parasite load among hosts, links between consistent individual differences in behaviour and parasitic infection have received little attention. We investigated the role of host activity and exploration on hard tick infestations of marked individuals in a population of Siberian chipmunks Tamias sibiricus introduced in a suburban French forest over 3 years.

2. Individual activity-exploration profiles were assessed from 106 hole-board tests on 73 individuals, and chipmunks’ trappability and trap diversity were used respectively as indices of their activity-exploration and space use on a sub-sample of 60 individuals. At each capture, we counted the total number of ticks per head of chipmunk.

3. We found significant and consistent individual differences in activity-exploration, trappability, trap diversity and tick load, and could estimate individual indices for these four variables, corrected for confounding effects of year, season, body mass and sex.

4. Using a path analysis, we found an indirect effect of activity-exploration on tick load: tick load increased with space use, which in turn was positively affected by trappability in the field. Trappability was itself positively related to activity-exploration in the hole board. Habitat type affected tick load, independently of behavioural traits. A second path model revealed a lack of either direct or indirect influence of tick loads on chipmunks’ personality and trappability.

5. Our results show that host personality-related patterns in space use can lead to a non-random parasite distribution among hosts.

Ancillary