Impact of ectoparasitic blowfly larvae (Protocalliphora spp.) on the behavior and energetics of nestling Blue Tits

A Simon, D W Thomas, J R Speakman, J Blondel, P Perrer, M M Lambrechts

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The nests of altricial bind species are host to a variety of nest ectoparasites that may develop high infestation levels and have a negative impact oil chick growth, hematocrit, metabolic capacity, and survival before or after fledging. IF ecroparasites affect chick development and fitness, then one Would expect chicks to express behavior that might serve to limit the impact of parasites. We compared the behavior of nestling Blue Tits (Parus caeruleus) in nests with and without ecroparasitic blowfly larvae (Protocalliphora spp.). In parasitized nests, Only 14.5% of the 15-s sampling periods were devoted to rest, whereas all chicks were testing in 32.5% of sampling periods for unparasitized nests. When nests were classed as active, repositioning Occurred nearly twice as often ill parasitized nests (83.5%) as in unparasitized ones (48.5%). Comfort behavior (e.g., preening) Occurred more frequently in unparasitized nests (35.1%) than in parasitized (18.1%). The proportion of time spent repositioning increased linearly with parasite load. The daily energy expenditure of parasitized nestlings (2.3 kJ/g/d) did nor differ significantly from that of Unparasitized nestlings (3.1 kJ/g/d), and the tendency was towards lower energy expenditure ill parasitized chicks. We cannot rule out the EAU chat Our anti-parasite treatment increased the thermoregulatory costs of unparasitized chicks and obscured the energetic costs of parasites. However, We argue that Proto-calliphora also call cause a depression in nestling body temperature that reduces metabolic rare, thus offsetting the costs of increased activity, while also reducing tissue growth races.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-410
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • anti-parasite behavior
  • blue tit
  • ecroparasites
  • energy expenditure
  • parus caeruleus
  • protocalliphora
  • tasty chick hypothesis
  • Mediterranean population
  • house martin
  • physiological ecology
  • parus-caeruleus
  • great tits
  • parasitism
  • success
  • reproduction
  • validation


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