Sex-biased severity of sarcoptic mange at the same biological cost in a sexually dimorphic ungulate

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Background: In sexually dimorphic species, male susceptibility to parasite infection and mortality is frequently higher than in females. The Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) is a sexually dimorphic mountain ungulate endemic to the Iberian Peninsula commonly affected by sarcoptic mange, a chronic catabolic skin disease caused by Sarcoptes scabiei. Since 1992, sarcoptic mange affects the Iberian ibex population of the Sierra Nevada Natural Space (SNNS). This study aims at exploring whether mange severity, in terms of prevalence and its effects on body condition, is male-biased in Iberian ibex. Findings: One thousand and seventy-one adult Iberian ibexes (439 females and 632 males) were randomly shot-harvested in the SNNS from May 1995 to February 2008. Sarcoptic mange stage was classified as healthy, mildly infected or severely infected. Sex-biased prevalence of severe mange was evaluated by a Chi-square test whereas the interaction between mange severity and sex on body condition was assessed by additive models. Among scabietic individuals, the prevalence of severely affected males was 1.29 times higher than in females. On the other hand, both sexes were not able to take profit of a higher availability of seasonal food resources when sarcoptic, particularly in the severe stages. Conclusions: Sarcoptic mange severity is male-biased in Iberian ibex, though not mange effects on body condition. Behavioural, immunological and physiological characteristics of males may contribute to this partial sex-biased susceptibility to sarcoptic mange.




López-Olvera, J. R., Serrano, E., Armenteros, A., Pérez, J. M., Fandos, P., Carvalho, J., … Granados, J. E. (2015). Sex-biased severity of sarcoptic mange at the same biological cost in a sexually dimorphic ungulate. Parasites and Vectors, 8(1).

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