Ectoparasites, uropygial glands and hatching success in birds

Anders Pape Møller, Johannes Erritzøe, L. Rózsa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The uropygial gland of birds secretes wax that is applied to the plumage, where the secretions are hypothesized to eliminate fungi and bacteria, thereby potentially providing important benefits in terms of plumage maintenance. We analyzed variation in size of the uropygial gland in 212 species of birds to determine the function and the ecological correlates of variation in gland size. Bird species with larger uropygial glands had more genera of chewing lice of the sub-order Amblycera, but not of the sub-order Ischnocera, and more feather mites. There was a fitness advantage associated with relatively large uropygial glands because such species had higher hatching success. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the uropygial gland functions to manage the community of microorganisms, and that certain taxa of chewing lice have diverged as a consequence of these defenses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-311
Number of pages9
JournalOecologia
Volume163
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

Fingerprint

uropygial gland
louse
ectoparasite
plumage
ectoparasites
hatching
bird
birds
Mallophaga
feather
wax
mite
secretion
fitness
microorganism
fungus
Amblycera
bacterium
Ischnocera
feather mites

Keywords

  • Chewing lice
  • Feather mites
  • Hatching success
  • Preen gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Ectoparasites, uropygial glands and hatching success in birds. / Møller, Anders Pape; Erritzøe, Johannes; Rózsa, L.

In: Oecologia, Vol. 163, No. 2, 06.2010, p. 303-311.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Møller, Anders Pape ; Erritzøe, Johannes ; Rózsa, L. / Ectoparasites, uropygial glands and hatching success in birds. In: Oecologia. 2010 ; Vol. 163, No. 2. pp. 303-311.
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