Factors affecting the prevalence of blood parasites of Little Owls Athene noctua in southern Portugal

Little Owl (Athene noctua) Science Article 4


We studied the relationships between occurrence of blood parasites and host traits in a wild population of Little Owls Athene noctua inMediterranean habitats of southern Portugal. Of 39 owls captured between February andAugust 1999, 16 (41.0%)were infected with Leucocytozoon ziemanni. One individual was infected with Trypanosoma sp. and another with a microfilaria. Age was the only variable influencing the prevalence of L. ziemanni in amultivariate logistic regressionmodel: adultsweremore often infected than juveniles (82.4%, n = 17 vs. 9.1%, n = 22). This difference was probably due to the scarcity of appropriate vectors in the area at time of fledging. There was also a trend that infected adults owls had shorter bills than uninfected ones. Thismay indicate that infection may be associatedwith individual song characteristics of LittleOwls, since a relationship between bill length and song features was found previously in the same area.

R. Tome, N. Santos, P. Cardia, N. Ferrand & E. Korpimaki, Ornis Fennica 82:63-72. 2005

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