The relation between colony size, breeding density and ectoparasite loads of adult European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1998
Authors:H. Hoi, Darolová, A., Konig, C., Krištofík, J.
Pagination:156 - 163
Date Published:1998
Keywords:barn, bee eaters, behavior, biology, chewing lice, coloniality, colony, cost, ecology, ectoparasite, Europe, fitness, host, lice, load, mechanism, parasite, populations, reproduction, size, swallow

The numbers of chewing lice were determined for adult bee- eaters and related to different measures of breeding density. Bee-eaters are infested by three species of chewing lice (Meropoecus meropis, Meromenopon meropis and Brueelia apiastri). Meropoecus meropis is the most common species and 94% of all adult bee-eaters were infested. This species also shows a significant variation between colonies. namely, infestation rate increases with colony size. Using different measures to describe colony size, a stepwise regression analysis showed that inter-nest distance is the best predictor for ectoparasite load. Average-infestation rate per individual decreased significantly with increasing inter-nest distance. This relationship was even more pronounced for the maximum number of parasites found within a colony and with the variation in parasite load among members of a colony (controlling for number of breeding pairs). There was no difference in ectoparasite load between the sexes and no general patterns related to the position of the breeding site within the colony.

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