Date of Graduation

Fall 2017


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Sean Haher


Island Biogeography Theory, small mammals, ectoparasites, hierarchical occupancy models, Ozark glades

Subject Categories

Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Island Biogeography Theory (IBT) explains and quantifies broad-scale ecological patterns among islands and isolated habitat patches. IBT predicts that the number of species per habitat patch varies as a function of area and isolation as a result of local colonization and extinction. IBT has been extended to habitat islands and hosts as islands for their associated parasites. In the latter system, host body mass acts as a substitute for island area, whereas host population density is used as a measure of isolation. Using the fragmented Ozark glades and the small mammals therein as a model system, I 1) used a multi-species occupancy model to correct for imperfect detection of species and generate species richness estimates, and 2) used the model to evaluate the effects of patch area, isolation, and shape on species richness. I then considered the mammalian hosts of the glades as islands for their associated ectoparasites, and evaluated 1) the effects of host population size on ectoparasite diversity metrics, and 2) tested for associations between mammalian host and ectoparasite communities. I captured a total of 8 mammal species and 7 ectoparasite orders in May–July 2016–2017. Glade area, but not isolation or shape, affected mammalian species richness. Ectoparasite richness and diversity were positively affected by host population size, and strong host-ectoparasite associations were present. IBT explains many of the patterns in small mammal and ectoparasite richness in the glade network, but matrix effects and host specificity may limit its applicability in this system.


© Emily M. Beasley

Open Access