Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed

Date:
May 29, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A new study provides a baseline distribution of blood parasites and strains in spotted owls, suggesting a more fragile immune health than previously understood for the already threatened Northern and California spotted owls. The study is the first to show a spotted owl infected with an avian malaria parasite.

Spotted owl. A new study provides a baseline distribution of blood parasites and strains in Spotted Owls, suggesting a more fragile immune health than previously understood for the already threatened Northern and California Spotted Owls.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dave Hughes

A new study provides a baseline distribution of blood parasites and strains in Spotted Owls, suggesting a more fragile immune health than previously understood for the already threatened Northern and California Spotted Owls.

The study, co-authored by San Francisco State University biologists, is the first to show a Spotted Owl infected with an avian malaria (Plasmodium) parasite.

"While Plasmodium parasites have been found in thriving owl species, the detection in a Spotted Owl could further challenge the threatened species' survival," said Heather Ishak, an SF State graduate biology student who performed the research with Assistant Professor of Biology Ravinder Sehgal and others.

Ishak conducted the study as part of a larger investigation into blood-borne parasites in birds of prey. She searched for three types of blood parasites in 111 Spotted Owls, 44 Barred Owls (Strix varia) and 387 birds representing nine other owl species. The blood analysis involving DNA testing revealed that 44 percent of Northern and California Spotted Owl subspecies harbored 17 strains of blood parasites.

They also harbored an unusually high number of strains that were not found in the other owl species.

"The controversy over the spotted owl's habitat in old-growth forests over the past two decades has made this species one of the most intensely researched birds in the world," Sehgal said. "Prior to this discovery however, the question of which blood parasites they harbor and whether Barred Owls could be a source of diseases that could further limit the Spotted Owl's chance of survival had been largely unaddressed."

According to the researchers, the infected Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) may have been exposed to the parasite by coming into contact with mosquitoes that fed on a Barred Owl (Strix varia). The increasingly invasive Barred Owls compete with Spotted Owls for food and nesting sites.

Ishak and Sehgal expect their findings will prompt more research into this species and enhance general knowledge of the role and effects of blood-borne pathogens in wild bird populations.

The other co-authors of the study were John P. Dumbacher of the California Academy of Sciences, Nancy L. Anderson of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, John J. Keane of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Gediminas Valkiunas of Vilnius University in Lithuania, Susan M. Haig of the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center and Lisa A. Tell of the School of Veterinary Science at University of California, Davis.

SF State is the only master's level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The university enrolls more than 30,000 students each year. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communications arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 140,000 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ishak et al. Blood Parasites in Owls with Conservation Implications for the Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis). PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (5): e2304 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002304

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201811.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, May 29). New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201811.htm
Public Library of Science. "New Threat To Spotted Owl Exposed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201811.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins