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Nasal mites (Mesostigmata: Rhinonyssidae) in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 June 2018

Ralph Eric Thijl Vanstreels
Affiliation:
Marine Apex Predator Research Unit (MAPRU), Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa Department of Zoology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Heather Proctor
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Albert Snyman
Affiliation:
Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Renata Hurtado
Affiliation:
Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa Institute of Research and Rehabilitation of Marine Animals (IPRAM), Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil
Katrin Ludynia
Affiliation:
Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Nola J. Parsons
Affiliation:
Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Pierre A. Pistorius
Affiliation:
Marine Apex Predator Research Unit (MAPRU), Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa Department of Zoology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Corresponding

Abstract

Rhinonyssids are obligate haematophagous mites that parasitize the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and occur in a wide range of birds worldwide. Two species of nasal mites are known to occur in penguins: Rhinonyssus sphenisci, which has been recorded from Humboldt and Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus humboldti and S. magellanicus, respectively), and Rhinonyssus schelli, which has been recorded in Adélie and Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae and P. papua, respectively). We examined the nasal cavity of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) that died while under care at a rehabilitation centre (N = 40) or that were found dead at breeding colonies (N = 67). Nasal mites were found in the nasal cavity and/or paranasal of sinuses of 21 penguins, some of which had signs of mild-to-moderate sinusitis. Prevalence was higher in juveniles (29%) and adults (27%) than in chicks (10%). Mean intensity was 5.9 ± 12.9 mites per infected host (range 1–60). The mites presented morphological characteristics that were at times consistent with either R. sphenisci or R. schelli, and therefore we conservatively classified them as ‘R. sphenisci sensu lato’. Our morphometric results raise the question of whether the specific status of R. schelli is justified.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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Nasal mites (Mesostigmata: Rhinonyssidae) in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus)
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