PATTERNS OF PARASITE ABUNDANCE AND DISTRIBUTION IN ISLAND POPULATIONS OF GALÁPAGOS ENDEMIC BIRDS

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Abstract

Parasite life-history characteristics, the environment, and host defenses determine variation in parasite population parameters across space and time. Parasite abundance and distribution have received little attention despite their pervasive effects on host populations and community dynamics. We used analyses of variance to estimate the variability of intensity, prevalence, and abundance of 4 species of lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) infecting Galápagos doves and Galápagos hawks and 1 haemosporidian parasite (Haemosporida: Haemoproteidae) infecting the doves across island populations throughout their entire geographic ranges. Population parameters of parasites with direct life cycles varied less within than among parasite species, and intensity and abundance did not differ significantly across islands. Prevalence explained a proportion of the variance (34%), similar to infection intensity (33%) and parasite abundance (37%). We detected a strong parasite species-by-island interaction, suggesting that parasite population dynamics is independent among islands. Prevalence (up to 100%) and infection intensity (parasitemias up to 12.7%) of Haemoproteus sp. parasites varied little across island populations.

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