The potential role of oral ph in the persistence of Trichomonas gallinae in Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii)

Elizabeth H. Urban, Robert W Mannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Trichomoniasis, caused by the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae, affects a variety of species worldwide including avivorious raptors. Existing information suggests that the disease is most prevalent in young birds, and differential susceptibility to trichomoniasis among individuals in different age groups was documented in Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii) nesting in Tucson, Arizona. In that population, 85% of nestling Cooper's Hawks had T. gallinae in their oral cavity, compared to only 1% of breeding-age hawks. Trichomonads generally are sensitive to environmental pH and we explored the possibility that differences in oral pH may contribute to the differential prevalence of infection between age groups. We measured the pH of the fluid in the oral cavity in 375 Cooper's Hawks from three age groups (nestlings, fledglings, and breeding age) in Tucson, Arizona, in 2010 and 2011 and clinically tested for T. gallinae in a subsample of hawks. Oral pH of nestlings (,6.8) was 7.3 times less acidic than in fledgling or breeding Cooper's Hawks (~6.1). The incidence of T. gallinae was higher in nestlings (16%) than in either fledglings or breeding hawks (0%). Our findings indicate that oral pH becomes more acidic in Cooper's Hawks soon after they leave the nest. Trichomonas gallinae thrives when pH is between 6.5 and 7.5 (optimum 7.2), but is less viable in more acidic conditions. Higher levels of acidity in the oral cavity of fledglings and breeding Cooper's Hawks may reduce their susceptibility to trichomoniasis, and play a role in the differential prevalence of infection among age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Fingerprint

Trichomonas gallinae
Accipiter
hawks
mouth
persistence
nestling
breeding
trichomoniasis
cavity
raptor
Trichomonadida
acidity
nest
birds of prey
bird
infection
Protozoa
fluid
nests

Keywords

  • Cooper's Hawks
  • Oral pH
  • Trichomonas gallinae
  • Trichomoniasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

The potential role of oral ph in the persistence of Trichomonas gallinae in Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii). / Urban, Elizabeth H.; Mannan, Robert W.

In: Journal of Wildlife Diseases, Vol. 50, No. 1, 01.2014, p. 50-55.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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