Bird hosts also harbour multiple non-microbial ectosymbionts such as feather mites, feather lice and ticks. As a bonus project from my PhD work, along with Dr. Wendy Tori, Ian Shriner and Sam Pigott, we investigated the drivers of feather mite abundances in multiple tropical bird species across three elevations in Papua New Guinea.
This work demonstrated that:
1. feather mites are ubiquitous across New Guinean birds,
2. hosts with curved bills harboured reduce mite numbers,
3. mite densities are not associated with host body conditions and,
4. there is no synergistic association between mite abundances and blood parasite infections.