eCite Digital Repository

Sarcoptes scabiei: the mange mite with mighty effects on the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus)


Simpson, K and Johnson, CN and Carver, S, Sarcoptes scabiei: the mange mite with mighty effects on the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), PLOS One, 11, (3) Article e0149749. ISSN 1932-6203 (2016) [Refereed Article]

PDF (Manuscript)

Copyright Statement

Copyright: 2016 Simpson et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149749


Parasitism has both direct and indirect effects on hosts. Indirect effects (such as behavioural changes) may be common, although are often poorly described. This study examined sarcoptic mange (caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei) in the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a species that shows severe symptoms of infection and often causes mortality. Wombats showed alterations to above ground behaviours associated with mange. Infected wombats were shown to be active outside of the burrow for longer than healthy individuals. Additionally, they spent more time scratching and drinking, and less time walking as a proportion of time spent above ground when compared with healthy individuals. They did not spend a higher proportion of time feeding, but did have a slower feeding rate and were in poorer body condition. Thermal images showed that wombats with mange lost considerably more heat to the environment due to a diminished insulation layer. Infection status did not have an effect on burrow emergence time, although this was strongly dependent on maximum daily temperature. This study, through the most detailed behavioural observations of wombats to date, contributes to a broader understanding of how mange affects wombat health and abundance, and also to our understanding of the evolution of host responses to this parasite. Despite being globally dispersed and impacting over 100 species with diverse intrinsic host traits, the effects of mange on hosts are relatively poorly understood, and it is possible that similar effects of this disease are conserved in other host species. The indirect effects that we observed may extend to other pathogen types.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mange mite, common wombat, parasitism, sarcoptic mange
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Host-parasite interactions
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Disease distribution and transmission (incl. surveillance and response)
UTAS Author:Simpson, K (Miss Kellie Simpson)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
UTAS Author:Carver, S (Associate Professor Scott Carver)
ID Code:107960
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:25
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-04-01
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:182 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page