Dust-ruffling: a simple method for quantifying ectoparasite loads of live birds

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1997
Authors:Walther, BA, Clayton, DH
Journal:Journal of Field Ornithology
Pagination:509 - 518
Date Published:1997
Keywords:host, lice, mites, survival

We present a simple, accurate method for quantifying the ectoparasite loads of live birds in the field. Birds were dusted with pyrethrin to irritate their ectoparasites, which were then dislodged from the plumage by ruffling the feathers over a collecting surface for repeated timed bouts until the point of diminishing returns was reached. This method required less equipment and was more accurate and efficient than previously described methods, as we show by comparing our method to other popular approaches. Dust-ruffling is best suited for sampling ''permanent'' ectoparasites, such as chewing lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera), which pass their entire life cycle on the body of the host.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith