An ecological study on the blood parasites of the Australian skink, Egernia Stokesii

Author: Jurgen Stein

Stein, Jurgen, 1999 An ecological study on the blood parasites of the Australian skink, Egernia Stokesii, Flinders University, School of Biological Sciences

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In the course of the present study, field populations of the South Australian skink E. stokesii were found to be frequently infected by an unknown number of apicomplexan blood parasite species. A field survey over three consecutive years examined the demography of the lizard, its ectoparasites and the blood parasites at six populations in the Flinders Ranges. Laboratory experiments focussed on the taxonomic descriptions of the blood parasite species, on the identification of their vectors and their impact on ectoparasites of E. stokesii, the ticks Ambfyomma vikirri and Ambfyomma limbatum. A molecular biological study aimed to develop a diagnostic test for blood parasite infections of E. stokesii, and also on a comparative analysis of the 18ssrDNA-nudeotide sequence of each blood parasite species. It was found that E. stokesii was infected by six species of apicomplexan blood parasites. The prevalence of the blood parasites and the ectoparasites found varied between the six populations of E. stokesii. The adeleorine blood parasites Hemolivia mariae and Hemolivia biplicata affected the fitness of infected starving nymphs of both tick species. The diagnostic molecular biological assay detected blood parasites from a parasitemia of 0.1 % and above. The comparative analysis of the 18 ssrRNA gene supported the taxonomic :findings of this study.

Keywords: South Australia, skink, E. stokesii, Egernia Stokesii, blood parasites, australian skink
Subject: Biological Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 1999
School: School of Biological Sciences