Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 155, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Hummingbird health: pathogens and disease conditions in the family Trochilidae

  • Loreto A. Godoy
  • Lisa A. Tell
  • Holly B. Ernest
Review

Abstract

The hummingbird family (Trochilidae) is species rich; however the effects of infectious agents and diseases on these birds have received little attention. We compiled and summarized published findings describing disease conditions in hummingbirds in order to provide a comprehensive overview of existing data to assist management and conservation of captive and free-ranging hummingbird populations. Few pathogens and disease syndromes have been described. There is a lack of information on clinical signs, pathology and epidemiology and their variation across species for most disease syndromes. Consequently, there is not enough information to determine the impact of diseases in hummingbird populations, including those of conservation concern. Several physiological, behavioral and ecological characteristics render hummingbirds as an interesting species for the study of wildlife disease ecology. Additionally, feeding ecology with prodigious diets of insects and nectar support consideration as “environmental samplers”; hummingbirds will serve as potential sentinels for assessing the environmental impacts of pollutants and pesticides. We conclude that further studies are needed to better understand the role of diseases in hummingbird fitness and survival. In this sense, hummingbird health monitoring programs are fundamental to securing scientific information on normal and abnormal health parameters.

Keywords

Bacteria Diseases Fungi Health Helminths Hummingbirds Infection Trochilidae Virus 

Zusammenfassung

Gesundheit von Kolibris: Pathogene und Krankheitsbedingungen in der Familie Trochilidae

Die Kolibri-Familie (Trochilidae) ist artenreich; allerdings wurde Pathogenen und Krankheiten bei diesen Vögeln wenig Beachtung geschenkt. Wir sammelten veröffentlichte Ergebnisse mit Beschreibungen zu Krankheiten bei Kolibris, um einen umfassenden Überblick zu erhalten über vorhandene Daten zur Unterstützung von Management und Schutz sowohl in Gefangenschaft als auch frei lebender Populationen. Nur wenige Pathogene und Krankheiten wurden beschrieben. Für die meisten Krankheiten gibt es einen Mangel an Informationen über Klinik, Pathologie und Epidemiologie und deren Variationen über Artgrenzen hinweg. Als Konsequenz gibt es nicht genug Information über den Einfluss von Krankheiten auf Populationen von Kolibris, einschließlich gefährdeter Arten. Verschiedene physiologische, ökologische und Verhaltenseigenschaften machen Kolibris zu einer interessanten Gruppe von Arten zur Untersuchung der Krankheitsökologie von Wildtieren. Darüber hinaus könnten Kolibris aufgrund ihrer auf große Mengen von Insekten und Nektar basierende Diät als “Sammler von Umweltproben” in Erwägung gezogen werden. Kolibris könnten als potentielle Indikatoren für die Auswirkungen von Verschmutzungen und Pestiziden dienen. Allerdings sind weitere Untersuchungen notwendig, um die Rolle von Krankheiten für Fitness und Überleben bei Kolibris besser zu verstehen. In diesem Sinne sind Monitoring-Programme der Gesundheit von Kolibris grundlegend für die Sicherung wissenschaftlicher Informationen über normale und pathologische Gesundheits-Parameter.

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loreto A. Godoy
    • 1
  • Lisa A. Tell
    • 2
  • Holly B. Ernest
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Wildlife and Ecology Unit, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, 1009 VM3B, School of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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