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Data from: Campylobacter jejuni infection associated with relatively poor condition and low survival in a wild bird


Taff, Conor C.; Townsend, Andrea K. (2017), Data from: Campylobacter jejuni infection associated with relatively poor condition and low survival in a wild bird, Dryad, Dataset,


Campylobacter jejuni is the most common foodborne pathogen in industrialized countries. Most human infections come from contaminated poultry, but wild birds are also known to harbor C. jejuni. Wild birds are often described as asymptomatic carriers, but this assumption is based on domestic poultry research. We studied the effects of C. jejuni infection on body condition and survival of adult and nestling American crows Corvus brachyrhynchos in Davis, California. Previous work demonstrated that more than half of the crows in this population are infected with C. jejuni and that at least some of the isolates carried by crows are similar to those found in domestic animals and humans. In this study, we compared the body condition of infected and uninfected individuals at the time of capture among adults (n = 44; 52% infected) and nestlings (n = 97; 77% infected). We subsequently monitored these banded individuals for up to 3 yr and used mark–recapture survival analysis to estimate relationships between infection status and later survival. We found that adult crows infected with C. jejuni were in poor condition relative to uninfected adults: average body mass of infected birds was 12% lower, whereas average body size did not differ between the two groups. Likewise, apparent survival probability was lower for infected adults. In contrast, nestling body condition, fledging success, and survival did not differ by infection status. This is the first study to document adverse effects of C. jejuni infection in a free-living, wild bird. If these effects are widespread, C. jejuni exposure may be a cause of conservation concern for some species, especially when human activities increase exposure to infections or introduce novel strains to wild bird populations. Our results add to the growing body of work demonstrating hidden long-term costs of seemingly mild infections in wild populations.

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