Polar Biology

, 32:1095 | Cite as

Health of Antarctic birds: a review of their parasites, pathogens and diseases

  • Andrés Barbosa
  • María José Palacios


Antarctic birds are not beyond the effects of parasites or pathogens. However, potential ecological consequences of wide-spread infections for bird populations in Antarctica have received little attention. In this paper, we review the information published about disease and parasites, and their effects on Antarctic birds. The information on host species, parasites and pathogens, and geographic regions is incomplete and data on ecological effects on the populations, including how birds respond to pathogens and parasites, are almost inexistent. We conclude that more research is needed to establish general patterns of spatial and temporal variation in pathogens and parasites, and to determine how such patterns could influence hosts. This information is crucial to limit the spread of outbreaks and may aid in the decision-making process should they occur.


Antarctic birds Bacteria Disease Health Parasite Virus 



This review was done under International Polar Year Project number 172 Birdhealth. This study was supported by Projects CGL2004-01348 and POL2006-05175 funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and by the European Regional Development Fund. MJP was supported by a Ph.D. grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (BES-2005-8465). We specially thank Barbara Wienecke and two anonymous referees for helpful suggestions on an early version of this manuscript. Deborah Faldauer corrected the language.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología Funcional y EvolutivaEstación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, CSICAlmeriaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSICMadridSpain

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