Parasitology Research

, Volume 112, Issue 7, pp 2721–2730 | Cite as

Effect of exotic mammalian predators on parasites of Cory's shearwater: ecological effect on population health and breeding success

  • Sandra HervíasEmail author
  • Jaime A. Ramos
  • Manuel Nogales
  • Rocío Ruiz de Ybáñez
Original Paper


Predator activity around the nests induces stress in breeding birds, which may have weaker immunity and are therefore more susceptible to parasite infections. The influence of predators on parasites has only been observed in land birds, and most studies are experimental. As seabird colonies offer excellent conditions for parasites, here we assess the influence of mouse, rat, and cat activity on parasites in Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea borealis). Adults were examined for blood parasites and one adult and the juvenile from 53 nests were inspected for ectoparasites over two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Nests differed in their physical characteristics and indices of mammal predator activity and were checked weekly to assess breeding success. Our results showed absence of blood parasites. Among the environmental factors, predator pressure received the most support (89 %) from the data as influencing nest ectoparasite intensity. Birds most infected had worse body condition, and breeding success was negatively influenced by predator activity and ectoparasite intensity. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of the interaction between mammal predators and ectoparasites in seabird species and supports greater protection through eradication efforts. In addition, we provide the first data on the endoparasite fauna of Cory's shearwater.


Breeding Success Wing Length Blood Parasite Camera Trap Predator Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



his study was made possible by LIFE07 NAT/P/000649 ‘Safe Islands for Seabirds’, coordinated by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) and co-financed by the European Union Commission. We thank P. Domingos, E. Díaz, F. Ceia, R. Ceia, S. Oppel, H. Cowen, T. Pipa, J. Benedicto, M. Goh and the Life Project team and volunteers for invaluable field help. We appreciate the input of J. Díaz, L. Chitimia and M. Kinsella who contributed to the identification of ticks and endoparasites. We are also grateful for the permission (no. 84; 2011) given by Direcção Regional do Ambiente (Horta, Portugal) for handling wildlife. The authors declare that all experiments described in this study complied with the current laws of Portugal.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Hervías
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jaime A. Ramos
    • 2
  • Manuel Nogales
    • 3
  • Rocío Ruiz de Ybáñez
    • 1
  1. 1.Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary, Regional Campus of International Excellence “Campus Mare Nostrum”University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Marine and Environmental Research Center (IMAR/CMA), Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC)Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3Tenerife, Canary IslandsSpain

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