Are Lice Associated with Ring-Billed Gull Chick Immune Responses?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:E. R. Fairn, McLellan, N. R., Shutler, D.
Pagination:164 - 169
Date Published:Jan-03-2012

Little is known about whether chewing lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) suppress or activate immunity in birds. Here, relationships between lice (Quadraceps punctatus, Saemundsonnia lari and Austromenopon transver- sum) and immune parameters were evaluated in Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) chicks. Eosinophils made up greater proportions of leukocytes in chicks with more lice (partial r = 0.64, P < 0.001), suggesting louse-induced immunoactivation via either eosinophil production or redistribution to peripheral blood. However, there were no significant relationships between lice and other immune parameters (proportion heterophils, proportion lympho- cytes, heterophil:lymphocyte ratio, response to injection with phytohaemagglutinin). Collectively, results suggest only minor immune responses to lice, but experimental manipulations of louse infestations are needed to better quantify these responses and evaluate their potential consequences for fitness.

Short Title:Waterbirds
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