Populations of rock partridge (Alectoris graeca saxatilis), in the Trentino province of Italy, exhibit cyclic fluctuations in abundance associated with relatively dry habitat. One of the hypothesis to explain these cycles is that survival of some free living parasitic stages and rates of infection are greater in these areas leading to higher parasite burden. This hypothesis was examined by investigating the intensity of parasite infection in cyclic and non cyclic rock partridge populations. Analyses of 87 intestine samples collected from shot rock partridges during 1994 and 1995 identified 8 species of helminths parasites: Ascaridia compar (P=33.33%; I=9.28±1.78), Heterakis tenuicauda (P=19.54%; I = 10.29±4.58), Heterakis gallinarum (P=1.15%; I=1.0±0.0), Heterakis altaica (P=1.15%; I = 17±0.0), Aonchoteca caudinflata (P=6.89; I=2.17±0.65), Postharmostomum commutaium (P=5.75; I=7.0±3.48), Brachylaema fuscata (P=1.15; I=7.0±0.0), Platynosomum alectoris(P=2.29; l=5.5±1.5). Cestoda, recorded with a prevalence of 5.75, were not identified to species level. A. compar and H. tenuicauda were prevalent in the rock partridge populations and there was no positive association between these species. Intensity of infection in both species was not influenced by host age, sex or year of study but levels of infection with A. compar burdens were significantly greater in cyclic populations than in non cyclic populations and there was a tendency for H. tenuicauda to be greater in cyclic populations. There was no negative relationship between intensity of infection with A. compar or H. tenuicauda and host body mass. These data provide some support for the hypothesis that these parasites may play a role in generating rock partridge population cycles.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|State||Published - Dec 1 1999|
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