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Population Dynamics of Chewing Lice (Phthiraptera) Infesting Birds (Aves)

, Robert J. Lamb
Published: 7 January 2021

Abstract: In the past 25 years, studies on interactions between chewing lice and their bird hosts have increased notably. This body of work reveals that sampling of live avian hosts, collection of the lice, and the aggregated distributions of louse infestations pose challenges for assessing louse populations. The number of lice on a bird varies among host taxa, often with host size and social system. Host preening behavior limits louse abundance, depending on bill shape. The small communities of lice (typically one–four species) that live on individual birds show species-specific patterns of abundance, with consistently common and rare species, and lower year-to-year population variability than other groups of insects. Most species of lice appear to breed continuously on their hosts, with seasonal patterns of abundance sometimes related to host reproduction and molting. Competition may have led to spatial partitioning of the host by louse species, but seldom contributes to current patterns of abundance.
Keywords: abundance / ectoparasites / intensity / prevalence / seasonality / stability

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