Biology Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Ecological Insights for Freshwater Birds from Endoparasite Community Analysis

Event Name/Location

Waterbird Society 43rd Annual Meeting, Princess Anne, Maryland, November 6-9, 2019

Presntation Date


Document Type



0000-0002-4900-3099, 0000-0002-4440-8767




Birds are often considered some of the top organisms in freshwater food webs, but their specific ecological niches have remained relatively unstudied. Upper-level predators are often more susceptible to mortality from parasitism than direct predation. However, little is known about the parasite communities that inhabit these upper-level freshwater birds. To address this knowledge gap, we examined endoparasite communities in ten waterbird species: common loon (Gavia immer, n=14); American coot (Fulica americana, n=5); common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus, n=5); limpkin (Aramus guarauna, n=2); belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon, n=6), red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator, n=3); anhinga (Anhinga anhinga, n=3); pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps, n=2); least grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus, n=2); horned grebe (Podiceps auritus, n=2). Specimens were collected from local wildlife centers who froze them immediately post-mortem. These specimens were thawed overnight, and individual organ systems were examined visually for endoparasites. To date, we have recovered a total of 13,739 parasites, including 7,647 digenea, 5,296 cestodes, 286 acanthocephalans, and 510 nematodes. New host records of trematodes, nematodes, cestodes, and acanthocephalans are reported for least grebes and horned grebes in Florida. Understanding the parasite communities in these bird species allows for further analysis of the long-term diet preferences of these species in the South Florida area as well as possible migratory behavior of these bird taxa.

This document is currently not available here.