We compared helminth communities in 6 species of birds of prey from the Calabria region of southern Italy. In total, 31 helminth taxa, including 17 nematodes, 9 digeneans, 3 acanthocephalans, and 2 cestodes, were found. All helminth species were observed in the gastrointestinal tract, except for 3 spirurid nematodes. Most of the parasite species were detected in at least 2 hosts, but 13 helminth species were found in only 1 host. At the infracommunity level, the overall species richness and Brillouin's index of diversity varied by host, with the highest values in a generalist feeder, the Eurasian buzzard (Buteo buteo), and the lowest in a specialist, the western honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus). Species richness was gender dependent only in the sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus). The helminth communities were characterized by different dominant species, namely, Centrorhynchus spp. (Acanthocephala) in the Eurasian buzzard and common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Parastrigea intermedia (Digenea) in the marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Physaloptera alata (Nematoda) in the sparrow hawk, Serratospiculum tendo (Nematoda) in the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), and Strigea falconis (Digenea) in the western honey buzzard. Statistical analyses confirmed a highly significant difference of helminth infracommunity structure among host species. We conclude that in the Calabria region of southern Italy, each of the raptor species studied is distinct in terms of its helminth communities, and more diverse feeding habits of the host correspond with richer helminth communities.
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Vol. 98 • No. 1