Louse (Insecta: Phthiraptera) infestations of the Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) and the Red-footed Falcon

Abstract

Little is known about the louse species harboured by Red-footed and Amur Falcons despite the fact that various life-history traits of these hosts make them good model species to study host-parasite interactions. We collected lice samples from fully grown Amur (n=20) and Red-footed Falcons (n=59), and from nestlings of Red-footed Falcons (n=179) in four countries: Hungary, India, Italy and South Africa. We identified 3 louse species on both host species, namely Degeeriella rufa, Colpocephalum subzerafae and Laembothrion tinnunculi. The latter species has never been found on these hosts. Comparing population parameters of lice between hosts we found significantly higher prevalence levels of D. rufa and C. subzerafae on Amur Falcons. Adult Red-footed Falcons had higher D. rufa prevalence compared to C. subzerafae. For the first time we also show inter-annual shift in prevalence and intensity levels of these species on Red-footed Falcons; in 2012 on adult hosts C. subzerafae had higher intensity levels than D. rufa, however in 2014 D. rufa had significantly higher intensity compared to C. subzerafae. In case of nestlings both louse species had significantly higher preva lence levels than in 2014. The exact causes of such inter-annual shifts are yet to be understood.

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