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The protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae causes adult and nestling mortality in a declining population of European Turtle Doves, Streptopelia turtur

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2014

JENNIFER E. STOCKDALE*
Affiliation:
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Irene Manton Building, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK
JENNY C. DUNN*
Affiliation:
RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
SIMON J. GOODMAN
Affiliation:
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Irene Manton Building, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
ANTONY J. MORRIS
Affiliation:
RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
DANAË K. SHEEHAN
Affiliation:
RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
PHILIP V. GRICE
Affiliation:
Natural England, Suite D, Unex House, Bourges Boulevard, Peterborough PE1 1NG, UK
KEITH C. HAMER
Affiliation:
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Irene Manton Building, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
*
*Corresponding authors: Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, UK. E-mail: StockdaleJE@cardiff.ac.uk and RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK. E-mail: Jenny.Dunn@rspb.org.uk
*Corresponding authors: Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, UK. E-mail: StockdaleJE@cardiff.ac.uk and RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK. E-mail: Jenny.Dunn@rspb.org.uk

Summary

Studies incorporating the ecology of clinical and sub-clinical disease in wild populations of conservation concern are rare. Here we examine sub-clinical infection by Trichomonas gallinae in a declining population of free-living European Turtle Doves and suggest caseous lesions cause mortality in adults and nestlings through subsequent starvation and/or suffocation. We found a 100% infection rate by T. gallinae in adult and nestling Turtle Doves (n = 25) and observed clinical signs in three adults and four nestlings (28%). Adults with clinical signs displayed no differences in any skeletal measures of size but had a mean 3·7% reduction in wing length, with no overlap compared to those without clinical signs. We also identified T. gallinae as the suggested cause of mortality in one Red-legged Partridge although disease presentation was different. A minimum of four strains of T. gallinae, characterized at the ITS/5·8S/ITS2 ribosomal region, were isolated from Turtle Doves. However, all birds with clinical signs (Turtle Doves and the Red-legged Partridge) carried a single strain of T. gallinae, suggesting that parasite spill over between Columbidae and Galliformes is a possibility that should be further investigated. Overall, we highlight the importance of monitoring populations for sub-clinical infection rather than just clinical disease.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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