Factors Affecting the Presence and Abundance of Generalist Ectoparasites in Nests of Three Sympatric Hole-Nesting Bird Species

  • Cantarero A
  • López-Arrabé J
  • Rodríguez-García V
 et al. 
  • 34


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 16


    Citations of this article.


Nesting cavities constitute micro-environments very likely to be colonized by ectoparasites which feed on blood of the incubating female and the nestlings. Given the negative impact of ectoparasites on nestlings there will be selection on hosts to minimize ectoparasite loads through behavioural defenses. We have addressed the implications of ectoparasitism in three sympatric avian cavity-nesters, namely Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca, Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus and Nuthatches Sitta europaea, to explore if differences in prevalence and abundance of generalist ectopara- sites (blowflies, fleas and mites) can be related to interspecific differences in their nest size, nest composition and cavi- ty microclimate. Furthermore, we have aimed at detecting if interspecific variation in the incidence and intensity of anti-parasite behaviours is a consequence of the abundance of ectoparasites. Differences in nest composition among host species appear not to be the main factor explaining ectoparasite loads, while nest size, breeding phenology, brood size and nest-cavity micro-climate may affect them in different ways for each host-parasite association. Behavioural defenses against parasites are exhibited by all host species but are more intense in the host species with the highest infestation levels (Blue Tits). This study shows different sources of variation in associations between three sympatric avian cavity-nesters and their generalist ectoparasites

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Alejandro Cantarero

  • Jimena López-Arrabé

  • Victor Rodríguez-García

  • Sonia González-Braojos

  • Rafael Ruiz-De-Castañeda

  • Alberto J. Redondo

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free