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Spatio-temporal population genetic structure of the parasitic mite Spinturnix bechsteini is shaped by its own demography and the social system of its bat host.
Information about the population genetic structures of parasites is important for an understanding of parasite transmission pathways and ultimately the co-evolution with their hosts. If parasites cannot disperse independently of their hosts, a parasite's population structure will depend upon the host's spatial distribution. Geographical barriers affecting host dispersal can therefore lead to structured parasite populations. However, how the host's social system affects the genetic structure of parasite populations is largely unknown. We used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to describe the spatio-temporal population structure of a contact-transmitted parasitic wing mite (Spinturnix bechsteini) and compared it to that of its social host, the Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii). We observed no genetic differentiation between mites living on different bats within a colony. This suggests that mites can move freely among bats of the same colony. As expected in case of restricted inter-colony dispersal, we observed a strong genetic differentiation of mites among demographically isolated bat colonies. In contrast, we found a strong genetic turnover between years when we investigated the temporal variation of mite haplotypes within colonies. This can be explained with mite dispersal occuring between colonies and bottlenecks of mite populations within colonies. The observed absence of isolation by distance could be the result from genetic drift and/or from mites dispersing even between remote bat colonies, whose members may meet at mating sites in autumn or in hibernacula in winter. Our data show that the population structure of this parasitic wing mite is influenced by its own demography and the peculiar social system of its bat host.
co-evolution , mating system , Myotis bechsteinii , social organisation , transmission
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