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Use of Nest Material as Insecticidal and Anti-Pathogenic Agents by the European Starling

L. Clark and J. Russell Mason
Oecologia
Vol. 67, No. 2 (1985), pp. 169-176
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4217709
Page Count: 8
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Use of Nest Material as Insecticidal and Anti-Pathogenic Agents by the European Starling
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Abstract

Passerine birds that reuse nest sites face an increased parasite and pathogen load. They also are more likely to use fresh green vegetation during nest construction. The present results demonstrate that at least one passerine, the European Starling: (a) selects a small subset of available plant species for inclusion in nest material; and (b) chooses plants whose volatiles are more likely to inhibit arthropod hatching and bacterial growth relative to a random subset of available vegetation. The results also show that preferred plants possess greater numbers of mono- and sesqueterpenes at higher concentrations relative to a random subset of available plants. These findings strongly suggest that starlings use chemicals in fresh vegetation as fumigants against parasites and pathogens.

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