Parasite-bird interactions in urban areas: current evidence and emerging questions
Urbanisation causes significant changes to species composition, species interactions and ecological and evolutionary processes. Changes in host-parasite interactions have the potential to be one of the important consequences of urbanisation, influencing the species able to exploit urban landscapes. We compile information about these less-studied interactions, focusing on the interaction between parasites (ectoparasites, blood parasites and intestinal parasites) and birds. Our review of the literature identified a poor knowledge of bird-parasite interactions in urban areas. While studies identifying parasites were more common than those comparing parasite abundance or host health, studies were limited geographically and to a few bird species. We found that urbanisation could have a positive or negative effect on the diversity and prevalence of bird parasites. Very few studies have linked parasite loads to bird health. We identify some hypotheses that need further consideration across broader regions and species to determine if parasites play a role in the establishment and success of birds in cities and how their health and body condition are affected. Studies of this type could provide valuable tools to understand how to maintain and conserve urban biodiversity. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.