Journal of Helminthology

Research Papers

The effect of urbanization on helminth communities in the Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula L.) from the eastern part of the Czech Republic

J. Sitkoa1 and G. Zaleśnya2 c1

a1 Comenius Museum, Moravian Ornithological Station, Horni nam. 1, 751 52 Prerov, Czech Republic

a2 Department of Invertebrate Systematics and Ecology, Institute of Biology, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Kozuchowska 5b, 51-631 Wroclaw, Poland

Abstract

In the present study we investigated two ecologically distinct populations of T. merula for the presence of helminths. We wished to determine whether urban populations of blackbirds had reduced helminth fauna compared to birds from forest habitats. Birds were caught in two ecologically distinct sites located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. A total of 320 birds were examined. The first site was located in Prerov where the birds were obtained from a typical urban population, and the second site was Zahlinice, which constitutes a typical forest area. As a result of parasitological examination, 30 helminth species belonging to Digenea, Cestoda, Nematoda and Acanthocephala were recorded from both sites: 29 species were found in the forested site and 15 in the urban site. The overall prevalence of infection was 93.1% and differed significantly between the sites (Zahlinice 97.2%, Prerov 85.1%). The mean species richness was almost three times higher in the forest population (3.37 ± 0.10) than in the urban one (1.78 ± 0.11). The clear qualitative and quantitative differences in the helminth community of T. merula obtained from two ecologically disparate localities show that urbanization leads to a significant reduction in the helminth fauna of a bird which is highly adapted to synanthropic habitats, while still remaining common in its original forest habitat.

(Received July 17 2012)

(Accepted October 29 2012)

(Online publication December 07 2012)

Correspondence

c1 Fax: +48 71 320 5876 E-mail: grzegorz.zalesny@up.wroc.pl