Yuma Ridgway's Rails (Rallus obsoletus yumanensis) are federally endangered birds endemic to wetlands throughout the Lower Colorado River Basin in Nevada, California, Arizona, and Mexico. The U.S. population has declined in recent years for unknown reasons. We documented a novel and severe chigger mite infestation in the Yuma Ridgway's Rails in southwestern Arizona in 2017. Prevalence of the infestation was spatially heterogeneous: 92% (48 of 52) of the Yuma Ridgway's Rails that we captured at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge were infested, whereas only 11% (2 of 18) of the Yuma Ridgway's Rails at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge were chigger infested. We know little about the origin of this infestation or the impacts of the parasites on the behavior and fitness of Yuma Ridgway's Rails. However, ectoparasite infestations in other species have caused population declines and the intensity and novelty of this ectoparasite infestation, combined with population status of this species, warrants immediate attention to this issue and further study of these ectoparasites.
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