We document chigger mite (Acari: Trombiculidae) ectoparasitic infestation (prevalence and intensity) on a population of Catharus ustulatus (Turdidae) wintering at a site (PAD A) in southeastern Peru undergoing development for natural gas exploration. We compare prevalence (i.e., the proportion of individuals infested by chigger mites) and intensity (i.e., the average number of larvae and larvae clusters in infested individuals) at forest edge (<100 m) and interior (>100 m) from PAD A because variations in biotic (e.g., vegetation cover) and abiotic (e.g., relative humidity and temperature) factors are expected to influence chigger mite abundance. Chigger mite prevalence was 100%; all C. ustulatus captured were infested regardless of distance. The range of variation in larvae (2–72 larvae/individual) and cluster intensity (1–4 clusters/individual) did not differ between edge and interior (P > 0.05), despite differences in herbaceous vegetation cover (UM-W = 180, n = 30, 31; P < 0.01). Ectoparasitic prevalence and intensity in long-distance migratory birds might add risks to an already hazardous journey; because ectoparasitic variation and other selective pressures experienced by individuals at each locality not only may be a cause of within-site mortality, but, by affecting the physical condition of birds, may be carried over to subsequent sites and affect reproductive success and survival. Documenting ectoparasitism at any phase of the life cycle of migrants could improve understanding of population declines of migratory birds.

You do not currently have access to this content.