Light geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens and Chen rossii) have recently come into contact along a shared migration route. Parasite burdens were compared by examining the digestive tracts of 48 newly comigrating light geese (38 lesser snow geese and 10 Ross’ geese) collected from 4 February to 3 March, 2012 during spring migration through central Illinois. Eight helminth taxa, including four species of Nematoda (Amidostomum sp., Epomidiostomum sp., Heterakis dispar, Trichostrongylus tenuis), two species of Trematoda (Echinostoma revolutum, Zygocotyle lunata), and two species of Cestoda (Cestoda sp. A, Cestoda sp. B), were recovered. Five of the eight helminth taxa were common in both species of host while Cestoda sp. B, Z. lunata, and E. revolutum were only found in lesser snow geese. Nematodes dominated assemblages, and all had a direct life cycle. Prevalences ranged from 22% (Amidostomum sp., C. rossii) to 100% (Epomidiostomum sp., C. c. caerulescens, T. tenuis, and C. rossii). Trematodes, which use an indirect life cycle, were relatively rare with a prevalence less than 10%. Host species and age showed significant effects on nematode composition whereas host sex had no effect. The prevalence of H. dispar was higher in adults than in juveniles for both species. Prevalence and mean intensity of T. tenuis was higher in Ross’ geese than in lesser snow geese, and mean intensity was higher in juvenile than in adult Ross’ geese. Patterns generally followed historic records, but infection levels were lower than previous reports from wintering and breeding ground surveys. While comigrating Ross’ geese and lesser snow geese share similar parasite assemblages overall, multivariate analysis showed clear discrimination between species and with age, indicating that the recent shift in migration patterns has not resulted in a homogenization of their parasite communities.
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Vol. 84 • No. 1