Host body size and the abundance of chewing lice (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Ischnocera) infesting eight owl species (Aves: Strigiformes) in Manitoba, Canada

Research paper by Robert J. Lamb, Terry D. Galloway

Indexed on: 21 Sep '19Published on: 01 Oct '19Published in: The Canadian entomologist


Specimens (n = 508) of eight species of owl (Aves: Strigiformes) collected from 1994 to 2017 in Manitoba, Canada, were weighed and examined for chewing lice (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Ischnocera). The relationship between host body mass and infestation by 12 species of lice was examined. Host body mass explained 52% (P = 0.03) of the variation in mean intensity of louse infestation among hosts, due primarily to a high abundance of lice on the heaviest owl species. The relationship was due to the mean intensity of lice, and neither species richness nor the prevalence of lice was related to host body mass. For individual louse species, the relationship was due primarily to Kurodaia acadicae Price and Beer, Kurodaia magna Emerson, and an undetermined species of Kurodaia Uchida (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae) (R2 = 0.997), but not the nine Strigiphilus Mjöberg (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae) species (R2 = 0.27). Louse intensity did not increase with body size for individual birds of any of the owl species. Mean intensity is expected to increase in proportion with the size, specifically the surface area, of the host. Why that relationship holds only for one louse genus, and not for the most abundant genus of lice on owls, and weakly compared with other families of birds, has yet to be determined.