1We censused ectoparasite populations of adult and nestling swifts over the course of the host's breeding season. Nearly all of the birds were infested with chewing lice and two-thirds of the nests were infested with louse flies. Feather mites were observed but not quantified.2Lice and louse flies both showed aggregated distributions among hosts. Louse eggs, hatched lice and adult louse flies had negative binomial distributions, whereas the aggregated distribution of louse fly pupae was not adequately described by negative binomial or Poisson models.3Transmission of lice from parents to offspring was documented. A comparison of the age structure of lice on parents and offspring indicated that most transmission was by nymphal lice.4Host reproductive success and survival appeared to be independent of the number of lice or louse flies. Neither parasite correlated with the number, body mass, or date of fledging of young birds, nor with the overwinter survival of adults. We caution, however, that experimental manipulations of parasite load are required for a definitive test of the impact of ectoparasites on evolutionary fitness components.
Field of Research
060307 Host-Parasite Interactions 060207 Population Ecology 060303 Biological Adaptation
Socio Economic Objective
960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified