Feather mites are among the most common ectosymbionts of birds. Despite their ubiquity, the bird–mite relationship is poorly studied. As a result of a large European collaboration, several scientists contributed their own data about feather mite prevalence and abundance quantified on different bird species. This yielded a highly valuable and huge dataset, which is continuously growing (now 119 species and 75944 individuals). Taking the advantage of this unprecedented dataset, we previously showed that feather mites are not parasitic symbionts of birds as formerly claimed (Galván et al. 2012). As a next step, we tested whether feather mite prevalence and intensity are species-specific traits, i.e. host species differ in a consistent manner. For this, we analysed the repeatability of the above two mite measures by ruling out several potentially confounding variables. We found that prevalence has a moderate, while intensity a low, but significant repeatability. Exploring what factors contribute for the relatively large overlap between species clearly deserves further enquiry. Our manuscript was submitted for review in PLoS ONE and was provisionally accepted with a “minor revision” decision. EvolEcol member names are typed with boldface.
Diaz-Real J, Serrano D, Pérez-Tris J, Fernández-González S, Bermejo A, Calleja JA, de la Puente J, de Palacio D, Martínez JL, Moreno-Opo R, Ponce C, Frías Ó, Tella JL, Møller AP, Figuerola J, Pap PL, Kovács I, Vágási CI, Meléndez L, Blanco G, Aguilera E, Senar JC, Galván I, Atiénzar F, Barba E, Cantó JL, Cortés V, Monrós JS, Piculo R, Vögeli M, Borras A, Navarro C, Mestre A and Jovani R. Symbiotic feather mite load is a species-specific trait in birds. PLoS ONE