Document Detail

Incorporation of cigarette butts into nests reduces nest ectoparasite load in urban birds: new ingredients for an old recipe?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23221874     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Birds are known to respond to nest-dwelling parasites by altering behaviours. Some bird species, for example, bring fresh plants to the nest, which contain volatile compounds that repel parasites. There is evidence that some birds living in cities incorporate cigarette butts into their nests, but the effect (if any) of this behaviour remains unclear. Butts from smoked cigarettes retain substantial amounts of nicotine and other compounds that may also act as arthropod repellents. We provide the first evidence that smoked cigarette butts may function as a parasite repellent in urban bird nests. The amount of cellulose acetate from butts in nests of two widely distributed urban birds was negatively associated with the number of nest-dwelling parasites. Moreover, when parasites were attracted to heat traps containing smoked or non-smoked cigarette butts, fewer parasites reached the former, presumably due to the presence of nicotine. Because urbanization changes the abundance and type of resources upon which birds depend, including nesting materials and plants involved in self-medication, our results are consistent with the view that urbanization imposes new challenges on birds that are dealt with using adaptations evolved elsewhere.
Monserrat Suárez-Rodríguez; Isabel López-Rull; Constantino Macías Garcia
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2012-12-05
Journal Detail:
Title:  Biology letters     Volume:  9     ISSN:  1744-957X     ISO Abbreviation:  Biol. Lett.     Publication Date:  2013 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-12-10     Completed Date:  2013-05-09     Revised Date:  2014-02-25    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101247722     Medline TA:  Biol Lett     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  20120931     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Cellulose / analogs & derivatives,  analysis,  pharmacology
Finches / parasitology*,  physiology
Mites / physiology*
Nesting Behavior*
Nicotine / analysis,  pharmacology
Population Dynamics
Sparrows / parasitology*,  physiology
Tobacco Products*
Reg. No./Substance:
54-11-5/Nicotine; 9004-34-6/Cellulose; 9004-35-7/acetylcellulose

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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