Abstract

Feather mites are a diverse group of ectosymbionts that occur on most species of birds. Although Darwin's finches are a well-studied group of birds, relatively little is known about their feather mites. Nearly 200 birds across 9 finch species, and from 2 locations on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, were dust-ruffled during the 2009 breeding season. We found 8 genera of feather mites; the most prevalent genus was Mesalgoides (53–55%), followed by Trouessartia (40–45%), Amerodectes and Proctophyllodes (26–33%), Xolalgoides (21–27%), Analges and Strelkoviacarus (0–6%), and Dermoglyphus (2–4%). There was no evidence for microclimatic effects (ambient temperature and relative humidity) on mite diversity. Host body mass was significantly correlated with mean feather mite abundance across 7 of 8 well-sampled species of finches. Certhidea olivacea, the smallest species, did not fit this pattern and had a disproportionately high number of mites for its body mass.

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