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Ectoparasitic ecology of Algerian hedgehog Ateleris algirus (Lereboullet, 1842) (Erinaceidae, Mammalia)in some localities of Edough Montain (W. Annaba, Northest Algeria).


Many studies have confirmed that the small mammals are vectors and host of many parasites that can affect not only the health of their host [1] but transmit and cause many diseases [2]. Among small mammals, hedgehog occupies a prominent place given for all researches conducted throughout its range [3; 4; 5], especially in parasitic ecology [6; 7; 8]. Indeed, the hedgehog is an urban adapter easily catchable and manipulated, giving it the status of privileged biological model, particularly for the study of parasite - Host interactions [9]. In Algeria, Kowalski and Kowalska [10] described the life history traits of the Algerian hedgehog and desert hedgehog. Since then, few scattered studies were performed [11; 12; 13]. The latest one concerned the identification of parasites and pathogens in Algerian hedgehog and desert hedgehog [14; 15; 16]. Our present study is more focused on ecology of Atelerix algirus ectoparasites, in particular environment of northeastern Algeria, especially in the forest of Edough wich dominates the city of Annaba, and rises to over 1000 m above sea level. The objective is not only to characterize the ectoparasites biodiversity, but also to analyze the relationship between their dynamics and the environmental conditions of host.


The study was conducted from October 2011 until the end of May 2012, in some plots of the forest of Edough (36 [degrees] 55N / 7 [degrees] 41E) (Fig. 1). The site is characterized by steep slopes and natural forest cover mainly consisting of Zeen oak and cork oak. The climate is Mediterranean with hot, dry season between May and November, and a wet rainy season and the rest of the year. The rainfall is 1000 mm per year.



We conducted a survey on land including a systematic search of individuals from dusk until late into the night, taking into consideration the eating habits as well as interviewing residents. Despite an intensive search, only 07 individuals were captured. Ectoparasites are harvested in sealed vials and fixed in ethanol at 70 [degrees]. The parasites were identified as dichotomous keys for ticks [17] and for fleas [18]. Once ectoparasites identified, we calculated the parasite rates [19]. Prevalence (Pr: number of infected specimens on the number of individuals examined), the mean parasite intensity (I mean: ratio of the total number of individuals of a parasite species on the number of infested specimens), and parasite abundance (A: ratio of total number of individuals of a parasite species on the total number of examined specimens).


1. Taxonomic characterization of ectoparasites:

After deworming, we proceeded to the taxonomic characterization of ectoparasites. The observation under binocular associated with the use of identification keys has allowed us to distinguish two taxonomic orders: these ticks (Acari) and fleas (Siphonaptera). This preliminary result is confirmed by Labnaoui study in the same stations [20], as well as by Khaldi et al., on Atelerix algirus [15].


The key usage for Ticks [17] allowed us to identify two taxonomic genera: Ixodes and Rhipicephalus gender. For each genera. We pushed the species identification, either globally the following species: Ixodes ricinus (A), Rhipicephalus bursa (B) and Rhipicephalus turanicus (c) (Fig 3).

Many studies have highlighted habitats conducive to Ixodes ricinus. These are found in most of Europe, from England to the Caspian Sea and northern Africa to southern Scandinavia [21]. These zones are temperate and humid, composed of wooded pastures, gardens, hedgerows and woodland. Despite the presence of these habitats, the distribution of this species depends on environmental conditions at the scale of microhabitats and the presence of hosts, Atelerix algirus, if any. In Algeria, ixodidian fauna remains poorly understood both in terms of biodiversity and in terms of the specific biology [22]. Many authors have also identified the gender Rhipicephalus, including Rhipicephalus bursa Rhipicephalus turanicus and colonizing the Mediterranean region [23; 24].

For chips, the use of identification key [18], allowed us to distinguish a species it comes to Archaeopsylla erinacei (chip hedgehog).


2. Analysis of parasite rates:

A total of 54 ectoparasites were collected with 29 chips and 25 ticks. Parasitic rates are exposed in the figure 5. The analysis of the parasitic abundance shows a predominance of Archaeopsylla erinacei (4.14), followed by respectively Rhipiciphalus bursa (1.71) Rhipiciphalus turanicus (1.43) and Ixodes ricinus (0.43). In the same way, the results show an infection rate Archaeopsylla erinacei largest with 85.71%, followed by a equal rate on Rhipiciphalus bursa and Rhipiciphalus turanicus (57.14%) and giving them the status of dominant species (> 50%) and by Ixodes ricinus (14.29%), which is considered like a satellite species.


From parasitic indices calculated, we can already analyze the qualitative and quantitative trends in ectoparasites - hedgehog relationship. Tick species are associated with specific vegetation assemblages, witch represent an appropriate abiotic conditions for survival and the life cycle of the species [25]. Many studies have demonstrated the relationship between the abundance of ticks, host populations (Atelerix algirus in this study), plant communities and abiotic factors [26]. However, climate and vegetation can not explain all of its changes. The relationship between the tick population and landscape structure are influenced by interactions between host tick vectors responsible for the dispersion of individuals, and the availability of resources [27]. The influence of these interactions is different depending on the hosts [28].

Regarding the chips, even if it presents a degree of preference of their host (the case of Archaeopsylla erinacei, said hedgehog chip), they are by no means specific to a species and feed on other animals in the absence of their usual host. In fact, they tend to focus more on a nest as a host. Adults can feed on the blood of a variety of animals, but the larvae require more specific conditions associated in habitats and nesting habits of their hosts, rather than the characteristics of their blood. Our results are confirmed by different works on the same host [20; 15; 29]


Article history:

Received 4 September 2014

Received in revised form 24 November 2014

Accepted 8 December 2014

Available online 16 December 2014


The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Dib Loubna (El Tarf University, Algeria), and to Forest department of Annaba, for their collaboration.


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(1) Feriel Sakraoui, (2) Mehdi Boukheroufa, (3) Walid Sakraoui, (3) Mouiz El Bachir Madoui

(1) Department of Biology. Faculty of Science. Badji Mokhtar University, Algeria.

(2) Laboratory of biodiversity and pathology of ecosystems. Faculty of Science, University of El Tarf Algeria.

(3) Laboratory of terrestrial and aquatic systems. Faculty of Science. Badji Mokhtar University, Algeria.

Corresponding Author: Feriel Sakraoui, Department of Biology. Faculty of Science. Badji Mokhtar University, BP 12 El Hadjar, Algeria.

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Author:Sakraoui, Feriel; Boukheroufa, Mehdi; Sakraoui, Walid; Madoui, Mouiz Bachir El
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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