Effects of host sociality on ectoparasite population biology

Noah Kerness Whiteman, Patricia G. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Theory predicts a positive relationship between parasite infection intensity and host density. However, this generalization is complicated in natural systems by differences in life history among parasite taxa, e.g., transmissibility. Accordingly, predictions relating host density to parasite load should be specific to each parasite taxon. To illustrate this, we studied parasites that differed greatly in life history in the context of the Galapagos hawk's (Buteo galapagoensis) variably cooperative mating system. Two louse (Phthiraptera) species were collected: Colpocephalum turbinatum (Amblycera), with 53 host species, and Degeeriella regalis (Ischnocera), with 10 host species, although B. galapagoensis was the only known Galapagos host. Sixty territorial adult male hawks from 26 groups of 1-6 males were quantitatively sampled for lice. Average abundance and intensity of C. turbinatum but not D. regalis were significantly larger in large groups of hawks than small groups. Males from the same polyandrous group harbored significantly correlated abundances of C. turbinatum but not D. regalis. Prevalence, average abundance, and intensity of C. turbinatum were significantly higher than D. regalis. These are the first results to demonstrate significant differences in a suite of population responses between these louse suborders in the context of host sociality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-947
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Parasitology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of host sociality on ectoparasite population biology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this