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Ectoparasite Effects on Nestling European Storm-Petrels

Santiago Merino, Eduardo Mínguez and Belén Belliure
Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology
Vol. 22, No. 2 (1999), pp. 297-301
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1522219
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1522219
Page Count: 5
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Ectoparasite Effects on Nestling European Storm-Petrels
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Abstract

A colony of European Storm-petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) on Benidorm Island was studied during 1996 breeding season. We experimentally tested whether ectoparasites affected growth and health of nestling stormpetrels. Four species of ectoparasites were found on nestlings; the most common were a dermanyssid mite and the flea Xenopsylla gratiosa. We manipulated ectoparasite loads on chicks by assigning them to one of three treatments: fumigated with insecticide, ectoparasite addition, or control. Nestlings in the fumigated group gained mass at a higher rate than those in the control group, and nestlings from the parasite addition treatment gained mass at the lowest rate. Because slower mass gain may delay fledging or reduce survival, ectoparasites may be an important selective force on European Storm-petrels.

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