Endoparasite infection has both short- and long-term negative effects on reproductive success of female house sparrows, as revealed by faecal parasitic egg counts
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLoS ONE 2015, 10(5) 10.1371/journal.pone.0125773
Parasites have the potential to severely reduce host reproductive success. However, the effects of endoparasites on reproductive success have not received the same amount of attention as the effects of parasites on host survival. We investigated the relationship between an avian endoparasite (gapeworm, Syngamus trachea) and both current and future reproductive success of female house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in a population on the coast of Helgeland, northern Norway. We found that the proportion of eggs in a nest that failed to develop into fledglings increased as the faecal parasitic egg count of the mothers increased. We also found that juvenile females with high numbers of parasitic eggs in their faeces had lower lifetime reproductive success as adults. However, we did not find a relationship between maternal parasite infection and clutch size or recruitment rate of offspring. To our knowledge this is the first study to find a relationship between reproductive success of an avian host and faecal egg count of an endoparasite. The present study indicates that infection by an endoparasite may be associated with lower individual reproductive success in both the short-term and long-term in a wild population of hosts.