Waterfowl, including ducks, geese, rails and others, are host to a great diversity of ectosymbiotic arthropods. In this study, we collected ectosymbionts from waterfowl and analyzed taxon richness and total abundance to determine whether there were differences in the mite and louse assemblages of waterfowl of different species, genera, sexes, and feeding behaviors. Data were collected from 53 individual birds from 13 waterfowl species and 5 waterfowl genera taken from Georgia and Alabama. A total of 11 louse species and 7 feather and nasal mite species were collected from the waterfowl samples. Fulica americana (American Coot) harbored the highest louse abundance and taxon richness but had the lowest abundance of mites. Most significant results were driven by the Fulica assemblage. Significant sex differences were detected only between male and female anseriform birds, in which female hosts demonstrated higher mean numbers of ischnoceran lice than male hosts. No significant differences in mite abundance between waterfowl sex or genera were observed, but more mite taxa were found on diving waterfowl than on dabbling species. These data will help to provide a foundation for future research on the ecology of waterfowl ectosymbionts in the southeastern United States.
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Vol. 12 • No. 2