Body mass, wing length, and condition of wintering ducks relative to hematozoa infection

Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Waterfowl managers lack information regarding factors that may be reducing the positive response of waterfowl body condition to habitat improvements. Protozoan blood parasites (i.e., hematozoa) are commonly found in birds and have been related to reduced body mass, wing length, and body condition. We studied relationships between 12 measures of hematozoa infection and body mass, wing length, and body mass divided by wing length (i.e., body condition index [BCI]) of the five most common duck species (northern pintail [Anas acuta], mallard [A. platyrhynchos], green-winged teal [A. crecca], American wigeon [A. Americana], northern shoveler [A. clypeata]) wintering in the Central Valley of California during October 2006-January 2007. After accounting for variation due to species, age-sex cohort, Central Valley region, and month; wing length, body mass, and BCI were found to be negatively related to infection by Leucocytozoon and by "any hematozoa" but not related to infection by only Plasmodium or Haemoproteus, or coinfections of greater than one genera or parasite haplotype (albeit, few ducks had Plasmodium or Haemoproteus infection or coinfections). Evidence of a negative relationship with infection was stronger for body mass and BCI than for wing length and indicated that the relationships varied among species, age-sex cohorts, regions, and months. Compared to uninfected ducks, hematozoa-infected duck body mass, wing length, and BCI was -1.63% (85% CI = -2.79%- -0.47%), -0.12% (-0.41%- +0.17%), and -1.38% (-2.49%- -0.26%), respectively. Although, seemingly small, the -1.63% difference in body mass represents a large percentage (e.g., 38% for northern pintail) of the observed increase in wintering duck body mass associated with Central Valley habitat improvements. Because infection prevalence and relationship to body condition might change over time due to climate or other factors, tracking hematozoa infection prevalence might be important to inform and accurately assess the effect of conservation programs designed to improve waterfowl body condition.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Body mass, wing length, and condition of wintering ducks relative to hematozoa infection
Series title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
DOI 10.3996/082016-JFWM-063
Volume 8
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 89
Last page 100
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Central Valley
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