Acanthocephalans of the genus Centrorhynchus (Palaeacanthocephala: Centrorhynchidae) of birds of prey (Falconiformes) and owls (Strigiformes) in Slovakia

Abstract

Three species of thorny-headed worms of the genus Centrorhynchus were found to parasitize birds of prey and owls in the territory of the Slovakia during the years 2012–2014. Out of 286 examined bird individuals belonging to 23 species, only Buteo buteo, Buteo rufinus, Falco tinnunculus (Falconiformes), Asio otus, Strix aluco, Strix uralensis and Tyto alba (Strigiformes) were infected by acanthocephalans. All the bird species except for S. aluco represent new host records for Slovakia. The most prevalent acanthocephalan Centrorhynchus aluconis was detected in all 15 examined birds of non-migratory Ural owl S. uralensis (P = 100 %); however, it was found occasionally also in two individuals of the tawny owl S. aluco (P = 20 %), one long-eared owl A. otus (P = 7.7 %), one barn owl T. alba (P = 33.3 %) and the common buzzard B. buteo (P = 0.8 %). Two other thorny-headed worms occurred exclusively in Falconiformes in raw or mixed infections: Centrorhynchus buteonis was found in 11 individuals of B. buteo (P = 9.2 %), and two birds (B. buteo and B. rufinus) were parasitized simultaneously by C. buteonis and the species Centrorhynchus globocaudatus. Moreover, the latest, relatively rare acanthocephalan was found alone in two common kestrels F. tinnunculus (P = 2.7 %). Regarding intensity of infection, it ranged from a single female of C. buteonis, C. globocaudatus or C. aluconis per host (four cases) to a maximum of 82 C. aluconis per an Ural owl. The difference in acanthocephalan species spectrum between birds of prey and owls in Slovakia was apparent.

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