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Saving an iconic species from extinction in the UK: interactions between diet, parasites and environmental change

Young, Rebecca 2022. Saving an iconic species from extinction in the UK: interactions between diet, parasites and environmental change. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The Afro-Palearctic migrant European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) is one of the UK’s fastest declining species. Breeding across Europe, and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, there are several drivers of this species decline, including a dietary switch from predominantly wild to more cultivated seeds, and infection with the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae. This thesis uses molecular methods to investigate the diet of turtle doves, infection with T. gallinae, and how these factors interact, and GPS data to analyse home-range and habitat use in the wintering grounds. Studies of this species have primarily focussed on the western European breeding grounds, therefore this thesis includes birds from the wintering grounds, and the eastern and western European breeding grounds. DNA metabarcoding of dietary items revealed variation between the genera consumed in the breeding and wintering grounds. Cultivated seeds were a prominent component of the diet in all sites, but a range of wild seeds were also detected, and habitat use indicated the importance of natural grasslands for foraging in the wintering grounds. Home-range of wintering turtle doves were considerably larger than previously described on the breeding grounds, potentially due to a combination of scarce food resources and a lack of territorial nesting behaviour. Home-ranges were smaller than previously described for turtle doves wintering in Senegal. Prevalence of T. gallinae ranged from 50% to 83% between sampling populations. Ten haplotypes were detected, four of which have not previously been identified, and co-infection between multiple strains occurred in 17% of birds sampled. The frequency of co-occurrence of strain pairs was lower than would be expected if infections were random, suggesting a mechanism to reduce infection with multiple stains acting within the host. No correlation was detected between T. gallinae infection and the consumption of cultivated seeds, and high dietary overlap was observed between infected and uninfected individuals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 January 2023
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2024 02:14

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