Alternate Title

Parasites of the American White Pelican

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Metazoan symbionts, including parasites, infecting the American white pelican (AWP) Pelecanus erythrorhynchos comprise a list of 75 species, 7 of which are new host records. Several new geographic records are also presented, but generally these have a low value because of the migratory nature of the bird. Evidence suggests that some parasites, mostly flies and other arthropods but also nematodes and digeneans, produce detrimental behavioral or pathologic changes in the AWP. Some of the arthropods transmit microbial agents to the pelican. Two digeneans that have the AWP as a definitive host harm and even kill their catfish intermediate host, especially in aquaculture, and another causes abnormalities and mortality in amphibians. Some of the arthropods with low host-specificity can potentially transmit harmful microbial agents to humans and domestic animals. A few avian bloodflukes, intestinal flukes, and nematodes can potentially cause “swimmers itch,” gastroenteritis, and “anisakiasis,” respectively, in humans. Because of the life cycles of some helminths, presence of those worms can provide an indication as to the dietary items of a specific pelican individual, where the individual has been, and how long it has been present in an area. Feather mites, lice, and diplostomoid digeneans serve as good parasites to indicate phylogenetic relationships among different pelican species as well as relationships among the Pelecanidae and other families such as the Sulidae.

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