Climate change is occurring rapidly at high latitudes, and subsequent changes in parasite communities may have implications for hosts including wildlife and humans. Waterfowl, in particular, harbor numerous parasites and may facilitate parasite movement across broad geographic areas due to migratory movements. However, little is known about helminth community structure of waterfowl at northern latitudes. We investigated the helminth communities of two avian herbivores that breed at high latitudes, Pacific black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans), and greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons), to examine effects of species, geographic area, age, and sex on helminth species richness, aggregation, prevalence, and intensity. We collected 83 and 58 black brant and white-fronted geese, respectively, from Arctic and Subarctic Alaska July-August 2014. We identified 10 known helminth species (Amidostomum anseris, Amidostomum spatulatum, Drepanidotaenia lanceolata, Epomidiostomum crami, Heterakis dispar, Notocotylus attenuatus, Tetrameres striata, Trichostrongylus tenuis, Tschertkovilepis setigera, and Wardoides nyrocae) and 1 previously undescribed trematode. All geese sampled were infected with at least one helminth species. All helminth species identified were present in both age classes and species, providing evidence of transmission at high latitudes and suggesting broad host susceptibility. Also, all but one helminth species were present at both sites, suggesting conditions are suitable for transmission across a large latitudinal/environmental gradient. Our study provides important baseline information on avian parasites that can be used to evaluate the effects of a changing climate on host-parasite distributions.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Helminth community structure in two species of arctic-breeding waterfowl|
|Series title||International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center, Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB|