Global associations between birds and vane-dwelling feather mites

Abstract

Understanding host–symbiont networks is a major question in evolutionary ecology. Birds host a great diversity of endo‐ and ectosymbiotic organisms, with feather mites (Arachnida: Acariformes: Analgoidea, Pterolichoidea) being among the most diverse of avian symbionts. A global approach to the ecology and evolution of bird–feather‐mite associations has been hampered because of the absence of a centralized data repository. Here we present the most extensive data set of associations between feather mites and birds. Data include 12,036 records of 1,887 feather mite species located on the flight feathers of 2,234 bird species from 147 countries. Feather mites typically located inside quills, on the skin, or on downy body feathers are not included. Data were extracted from 493 published sources dating from 1882 to 2015. Data exploration shows that although most continents and bird families are represented, most bird species remain unexplored for feather mites. Nevertheless, this is the most comprehensive data set available for enabling global macroecological analyses of feather mites and their hosts, such as ecological network analyses. This metadata file outlines the structure of these data and provides primary references for all records used.

Publication
In Ecology.