How Birds Combat Ectoparasites
Dale H. Clayton*, 1, Jennifer A.H. Koop1, Christopher W. Harbison1, 2, Brett R. Moyer1, 3, Sarah E. Bush1, 4
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2010
First Page: 41
Last Page: 71
Publisher Id: TOOENIJ-3-41
Article History:Received Date: 25/05/2009
Revision Received Date: 10/06/2009
Acceptance Date: 11/06/2009
Electronic publication date: 22/4/2010
Collection year: 2010
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Birds are plagued by an impressive diversity of ectoparasites, ranging from feather-feeding lice, to featherdegrading bacteria. Many of these ectoparasites have severe negative effects on host fitness. It is therefore not surprising that selection on birds has favored a variety of possible adaptations for dealing with ectoparasites. The functional significance of some of these defenses has been well documented. Others have barely been studied, much less tested rigorously. In this article we review the evidence - or lack thereof - for many of the purported mechanisms birds have for dealing with ectoparasites. We concentrate on features of the plumage and its components, as well as anti-parasite behaviors. In some cases, we present original data from our own recent work. We make recommendations for future studies that could improve our understanding of this poorly known aspect of avian biology.