Cape Wagtails Motacilla capensis have been identified as a species susceptible to infection by the mite Knemidokoptes jamaicensis, but the processes influencing infection rates and prevalence have not been studied. We assessed the mite infection level of 117 Cape Wagtails
captured during the 2005 breeding season on Dassen Island, South Africa, analysed mite infection as functions of morphometrics and fat, and compared prevalence to other sites. Knemidokoptic mite infection was found in 42% of wagtails, which was more than double the prevalences reported for
conspecifics on the mainland, and high compared to other host species. Mite infection of birds captured on the island was explored graphically against the morphometrics of individuals using cubic splines. Formal statistics were then applied using generalised linear mixed models, with observation
and unique ring number as random effects within a two-level hierarchical mixed binomial model, and the fixed explanatory morphometric data being natural log-transformed. Morphometric data supported the idea that larger individuals were more likely to exhibit signs of mite infection. Possible
contributing factors to this high percentage of mite-infected wagtails are discussed, with one possibility being that the low levels of predation on the island allow larger individuals to carry the cost of mite infection.
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Document Type: Research Article
19 Victoria StreetIndooroopilly,4068,Queensland, Australia
23 Elmhurst AvenueLondon,N2 0LT, UK
DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology,University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3Rondebosch,7701, South Africa
August 1, 2012
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