Abstract

We studied behavioral responses of goitered gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa) to hypodermic botfly (family Hypodermatidae) activity in the naturally arid conditions of Kazakhstan. We found that the reactions of goitered gazelles are very similar to the insect-repelling behaviors of other ruminants and that most behavioral responses of goitered gazelles, such as frantic running, tail movements, and grooming, are not specific to botflies. The seasonal and diurnal changes in the intensity of the behavioral responses of the goitered gazelles coincided with the parasitic activities of botfly maggots. Surprisingly, the group size of the goitered gazelles decreased during the breeding of these parasitic insects instead of increasing, as was expected according to our predictions. As an alternative, the goitered gazelles chose an opposite strategy of dispersion throughout the area to avoid infestation. This strategy is well-known for other species of ungulates and was quite effective, because their infestation rate was relatively low.

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