ProjectDeterminants of parasitism in the Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus)
Understanding the interactions between parasites and their hosts is a central component of ecology. Within a host population, levels of parasitic infection vary between individuals due to factors such as host behavior, personality, sex, immunocompetence and physiology. For my masters project, I will investigate Cuterebra bot fly parasitism in wild eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). Specifically, I aim to explore questions including: Why do individuals in the same population differ in their levels of parasitism? Does being more explorative and active come at the cost of acquiring parasites? Do certain individuals consistently harbour more parasites than others? To answer these questions, I will use a long-term dataset from a population of individually marked eastern chipmunks to evaluate the effects of chipmunk exploration, activity, space use, age, sex and food availability on bot fly infestation prevalence and load.