Fleas are one of the most interesting and fascinating taxa of ectoparasites. All species in this relatively small order are obligatory haematophagous (blood-feeding) parasites of higher vertebrates. This book examines how functional, ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes of host-parasite relationships are realized in this particular system. As such it provides an in-depth case study of a host-parasite system, demonstrating how fleas can be used as a model taxon for testing ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. The book moves from basic descriptive aspects, to functional issues and finally to evolutionary explanations. It extracts several general principles that apply equally well to other host-parasite systems, so it appeals not only to flea biologists but also to 'mainstream' parasitologists and ecologists.

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