Variation in Ectosymbiont Assemblages Associated with Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) from Coast to Coast in Canada

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2021
Authors:A. A. Grossi, Proctor H. C.
Date Published:Jan-01-2021
Type of Article:18 pp
Keywords:feather mite, lice, nasal mite, Rock Pigeon, skin mite

When a species colonizes a new area, it has the potential to bring with it an array of smaller-bodied symbionts. Rock Pigeons (Columba livia Gmelin) have colonized most of Canada and are found in almost every urban center. In its native range, C. livia hosts more than a dozen species of ectosymbiotic arthropods, and some of these lice and mites have been reported from Rock Pigeons in the United States. Despite being so abundant and widely distributed, there are only scattered host-symbiont records for rock pigeons in Canada. Here we sample Rock Pigeons from seven locations across Canada from the west to east (a distance of > 4000 km) to increase our knowledge of the distribution of their ectosymbionts. Additionally, because ectosymbiont abundance can be affected by temperature and humidity, we looked at meteorological variables for each location to assess whether they were correlated with ectosymbiont assemblage structure. We found eight species of mites associated with different parts of the host’s integument: the feather dwelling mites Falculifer rostratus (Buchholz), Pterophagus columbae (Sugimoto) and Diplaegidia columbae (Buchholz); the skin mites: Harpyrhynchoides gallowayi Bochkov, OConnor and Klompen, H. columbae (Fain), and Ornithocheyletia hallae Smiley; and the nasal mites Tinaminyssus melloi (Castro) and T. columbae (Crossley). We also found five species of lice: Columbicola columbae (Linnaeus), Campanulotes compar (Burmeister), Coloceras tovornikae Tendeiro, Hohorstiella lata Piaget, and Bonomiella columbae Emerson. All 13 ectosymbiont species were found in the two coastal locations of Vancouver (British Columbia) and Halifax (Nova Scotia). The symbiont species found in all sampling locations were the mites O. hallae, H. gallowayi, T. melloi and T. columbae, and the lice Colu. columbae and Camp. compar. Three local meteorological variables were significantly correlated with mite assemblage structure: annual minimum and maximum temperatures and maximum humidity in the month the pigeon was collected. Two local meteorological variables, annual maximum and average temperatures, were significantly correlated with louse assemblages. Our results suggest that milder climatic conditions may affect richness and assemblage structure of ectosymbiont assemblages associated with Rock Pigeons in Canada

Short Title:Diversity
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