Museum-Based Research on the Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) Infestations of Hummingbirds (Aves: Trochilidae)—Prevalence, Genus Richness and Parasite Associations

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2023
Authors:Y. Oniki, Willis, E. O., Lopes, L. E., Rózsa, L.
Pagination:9 pp
Date Published:Jan-03-2023
Keywords:ecology; neotropics; Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis; sampling bias

We documented the presence/absence of the eggs of Trochiloecetes, Trochiliphagus, and Leremenopon lice on over 50,000 hummingbird specimens (representing 348 species plus 247 additional subspecies) in four museums in the USA. (i) We provide sample estimates of infestation prevalence. (ii) Sample estimates of parasite genus richness increased with increasing host sample size. (iii) Host body mass did not correlate with parasite genus richness, even when controlled for sample size effects. (iv) The prevalence of Trochiliphagus and Trochiloecetes infestations did not correlate with host body mass, while the prevalence of Leremenopon exhibited a marginally significant positive correlation with host body mass. (v) The prevalence of Trochiliphagus and Leremenopon infestations correlated strongly and positively across host taxa (i.e., species or subspecies). (vi) The co-occurrence of Trochiliphagus and Trochiloecetes within the few largest host samples—i.e., within particular host taxa—was significantly more frequent than expected by chance. This latter association might indicate a true ecological relationship or, alternatively, might have emerged as an artifact of our sampling method. (vii) We found no relationship between host sexual size dimorphism and the prevalence of any of the three louse genera, contrary to the interspecific prediction of the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis.

Subplementary info Table S1: Hummingbird louse infestation data.

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