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  1. The geographical ranges of many mammals and their associated parasites are dynamic. Comprehensive documentation of these communities over time provides a foundation for interpreting how changing environmental conditions, driven by accelerating climate change, other anthropogenic disturbances, and natural events, may influence host-parasite interactions. Fleas (Order Siphonaptera) are obligate, hematophagous parasites of birds and mammals with medical interest because of their role in transmitting pathogens. From 2016 to 2019, we sampled the small mammal and associated flea communities in El Malpais National Conservation Area (El Malpais) in Cibola County, New Mexico. Among 898 mammalian specimens, 925 fleas representing 29 species were collected from 18 host species. Pleochaetis exilis was the most abundant flea species, composing 27% of the total fleas collected, whereas Aetheca wagneri was the most prevalent flea species, parasitizing 8% of the community sampled. Across a total of 284 hosts recorded with fleas, A. wagneri, Malaraeus eremicus, and Peromyscopsylla hesperomys adelpha parasitized the most host species (n = 6 each). Onychomys leucogaster (Wied-Neuwied, 1841), the northern grasshopper mouse, a rodent highly implicated in plague dynamics, was host for the highest number of flea species (n = 15), followed by Peromyscus truei (Shufeldt, 1885) (n = 10). Our aims are to (a) describe the flea-mammal assemblage of a central New Mexico site, creating a baseline for diversity against which changing patterns of association can be assessed over time; (b) identify previously unrecognized host associations; and (c) examine infestation parameters, including the relationships of flea prevalence and mean abundance to host sex, host abundance, and seasonality. As such, our study exemplifies the Documentation and Assessment phases of the DAMA protocol (Document, Assess, Monitor, Act), a central component of exploring distribution and diversity of complex pathogen-host communities across space and time that are essential to a proactive understanding of emerging disease. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 10, 2024
  2. ABSTRACT

    We investigate the contribution of extended radio sources such as Centaurus A, and Galactic supernova remnants (SNRs) to our ability to detect the statistical 21-cm signal from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). These sources are typically ignored because they are in highly attenuated parts of the MWA primary beam, however, in aggregate, these sources have apparent flux densities of $10\, \rm {Jy}$ on angular scales we expect to detect the 21-cm signal. We create bespoke multicomponent 2D Gaussian models for Galactic SNRs and for Centaurus A, and simulate the visibilities for two MWA snapshot observations. We grid those visibilities and then Fourier transform them with respect to frequency, averaging them both spherically and cylindrically to produce the 1D and 2D power spectra. We compare the simulated 1D power spectra to the expected 21-$\rm {cm}$ power spectrum. We find that although these extended sources are in highly attenuated parts of the MWA primary beam pattern, collectively they have enough power (∼104−105 $\rm {mK^2}\, {\it h^{-3}} \, \rm {Mpc^{3}}$) on EoR significant modes $(|{\boldsymbol k}| \lesssim 0.1\, h\, \rm {Mpc^{-1}})$ to prohibit detection of the 21-$\rm {cm}$ signal (∼104 $\rm {mK^2}\, {\it h^{-3}} \, \rm {Mpc^{3}}$). We find that $50{-}90{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of sources must be removed in order to reduce leakage to a level of $\sim 10{-}20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the 21-$\rm {cm}$ power spectrum on EoR significant modes. The effects of wide-field extended sources will have implications on the detectability of the 21-$\rm {cm}$ signal for the MWA and with the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

     
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