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Determinants of parasite diversity and community structure in waterbirds

Ueda, Atsuhiro (2021) Determinants of parasite diversity and community structure in waterbirds. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The study of factors that underlie parasite fauna has received increased research attention in the last decade. The host and parasite have often co-evolved over a long time, which helps explain patterns of parasite community diversity within a similar host group. This study examined the following four ecological species traits of waterbirds for any relationship with parasite community richness and structure: habitat utilisation, foraging techniques, movement patterns, and colony size. The birds examined were Australasian darter, Australasian grebe, crested tern, little pied cormorant, pied cormorant, silver gull, and white-faced heron around Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia. Ectoparasites and gastrointestinal parasites were collected and identified. Ectoparasites were identified as lice or mites, and gastrointestinal parasites as Cestoda, Trematoda, Acanthocephala, and family levels for nematodes, including Capillariidae, Anisakidae, Acuariidae, Tetrameridae, and Desmidocercidae. The prevalence and abundance of ecto- and gastrointestinal parasites varied among waterbird hosts. Whilst preliminary, the analysis indicated a greater parasite infracommunity richness in bird species with larger colony sizes than those with small colonies (! = 7.066, ( = 0.008). In regard to parasite infracommunity structure, birds which belong to the same foraging group, movement pattern, and colony size had similar parasite composition. Notwithstanding relatively small sample sizes, this study has improved our understanding of the relationship between host ecology and parasite fauna and identifies avenues for future studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Ash, Amanda and Lymbery, Alan
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