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Evaluation of Proctophyllodes huitzilopochtlii on feathers from Anna's (Calypte anna) and Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri) Hummingbirds: Prevalence assessment and imaging analysis using light and tabletop scanning electron microscopy.


Proctophyllodes huitzilopochtlii Atyeo & Braasch 1966 (Acariformes: Astigmata: Proctophyllodidae), a feather mite, was found on feathers collected from five hummingbird species in California. This mite has not been previously documented on feathers from Anna's (Calypte anna [Lesson 1829]) or Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri [Bourcier & Mulsant 1846]) Hummingbirds. A total of 753 hummingbirds were evaluated for the presence of mites by species (Allen's n = 112; Anna's n = 500; Black-chinned n = 122; Rufous n = 18; Calliope n = 1), sex (males n = 421; females n = 329; 3 unidentified), and age (juvenile n = 199; after-hatch-year n = 549; 5 unidentified). Of these 753 hummingbirds evaluated, mites were present on the rectrices of 40.9% of the birds. Significantly more Anna's Hummingbirds were positive for rectricial mites (59.2%) compared with 8.2% of Black-chinned, 0.9% of Allen's, 5.6% of Rufous Hummingbirds, and 0% for Calliope (p-value < 0.0001). Across all hummingbird species, male hummingbirds (44.9%) had a higher prevalence of rectricial mites compared to female hummingbirds (36.2%; p-value = 0.004), while juvenile hummingbirds (46.2%) had a non-significantly higher prevalence compared to after-hatch-year hummingbirds (39.0%; p-value = 0.089). On average, the percentage of the long axis of the rachis occupied by mites for the outer rectrices (R4 and R5) was 19%, compared to 11% for inner rectrices (R1 and R2), a significant difference (p-value = <0.0001). There was a marginal lack of significance for symmetrical distribution of tail mites with the mean left side percentage of long axis of the rachis occupied by mites being 16% and very close to the mean right side score of 18% (p-value = 0.003). The identification of the feather mite species was based on light microscopic morphometry, and mite distribution on feathers was further evaluated using tabletop scanning electron microscopy (TSEM). The hummingbird-feather mite relationship is not well understood, but the specialized TSEM technique may be especially useful in examining natural positioning and developmental aspects of the mites since it allows in situ feather examination of live mites.

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