Unintentional parasite conservation success: chewing lice recovered from Crested Ibis, Nipponia nippon, in breeding program facilities in Shaanxi, China

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2021
Authors:D. R. Gustafsson, Tian, C., Yu, X., Xu, L., Wu, S., Zou, F.
Journal:Biodiversity and Conservation
Date Published:05-Sep-2021
ISSN:0960-3115, 1572-9710

The crested ibis has survived a dramatic population decline during the twentieth century, declining from a range across much of China, Japan, the Korean peninsula and nearby Russia, to a known world population of seven individuals. These formed the basis of a successful breeding program in Shaanxi, China. We examined ibises in this breeding program for ectoparasites, to establish whether any of the three chewing louse species known from this host had survived this severe host population bottleneck. We recovered representatives of three species of lice, identified as the same species as those previously known from the wild populations: Ardeicola nippon, Colpocephalum nipponi, and Ibidoecus meinertzhageni. Of these, the two first species were recovered from almost all examined hosts, whereas I. meinertzhageni was more rare. As these lice are host specific, this implies that all three louse species remarkably survived this bottleneck, and are now thriving in both the reintroduced and captive populations of crested ibis. This constitutes an unintentional success story in the conservation of parasitic species. We provide the first photos of all three species, as well as a preliminary assessment of their conservation status, and discuss the future of chewing louse conservation.

Short Title:Biodivers Conserv
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