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Are parasite intensity and related costs of the milichiid fly Carnus hemapterus related to host sociality

Hoi, H., Krištofík, J., Darolová, A., Hoi, C.
Journal für Ornithologie 2010 v.151 no.4 pp. 907-913
Diptera, Merops, adverse effects, animal age, animal development, birds, chicks, clutch size, ectoparasites, host specificity, hosts, nestlings, population size, social behavior
Ectoparasites have often been shown to have detrimental effects on their host. Not much is known, however, about determinants of infestation, e.g. the question of which factors affect distribution and occurrence of parasites on different host species (degree of host specificity) and their infestation rates. In this study we examine possible effects of host determinants on parasite intensity of Carnus hemapterus (Carnidae), an ectoparasitic fly on nestling birds, in the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which is a common host of C. hemapterus. Our results show that European bee-eaters seem to be one of the most heavily infested host species of C. hemapterus. We found that brood size, nestling age, and colony size are the most important determinants of infestation by C. hemapterus. This parasite seems to prefer medium-sized bee-eater chicks and to select them according to their condition. Our results further suggest a negative effect of C. hemapterus on chick development.