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Climate variability affects the impact of parasitic flies on Argentinean forest birds

Authors

  • L. R. Antoniazzi,

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
    2. Asociación para la Conservación y el Estudio de la Naturaleza, Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • D. E. Manzoli,

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
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  • D. Rohrmann,

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
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  • M. J. Saravia,

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
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  • L. Silvestri,

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
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  • P. M. Beldomenico

    1. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina
    2. Argentine Council for Science and Technology (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina
    3. Global Health Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY, USA
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  • Editor: Andrew Kitchener

Correspondence
Pablo M. Beldomenico, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Litoral (FCV-UNL), R. P. Kreder 2805, 3080 Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina. Tel: +54 3424 565 498; Fax: +54 3496 426 304
Email: pbeldome@fcv.unl.edu.ar

Abstract

The genus Philornis (Diptera: Muscidae) comprises Neotropical parasitic flies that parasitize bird nestlings while in their larval stage. The ecology of most species of these parasitic flies is largely unknown. Here, we contribute with data that shed some light on the environmental factors that are associated with variations in parasitism intensity of Philornis torquans, and examine whether increased intensity is followed by greater probability of mortality or reduced nestling growth. Intensive examination of nestlings of the bird community present in a 30 ha area was carried out weekly along two breeding seasons in Santa Fe, Argentina. Some nestlings of the most frequently parasitized bird species were followed twice a week, from hatching to fledging, to assess the impact of the parasites. High average maximum temperature and increased rainfall were significantly positively correlated with mean Philornis intensity. In turn, heavily parasitized nestlings were more likely to die: 10 larvae doubled the chances of mortality, and growth was affected in those that survived. The greater precipitation and warmer weather predicted for some areas of South America pose a potential impact on nestlings via this parasitism, and consequently on the population dynamics of native birds.

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